BendBroadband, a leader in the cable and broadband sectors, created the 30,000-square-foot co-location data center. Besides pursuing LEED Gold and Energy Star industry certifications, the data center is located in a geographic area safe from most natural disasters (see sidebar). The Vault welcomed its first clients in April.
BendBroadband Vault claims to be the only Tier III constructed facility with a sustainable energy focus.
The most remarkable green feature of the data center is its cooling system. Two 450-kilowatt (kW) capacity Kyoto Cooling systems use outside air to cool the building 75 percent of the time, using the principle of heat exchange. Heat exchange works better if there’s a large difference of temperabeture between the hot air inside the building and cold air outside the building. The system becomes more efficient by concentrating hot air. Two 2-1/2 ton aluminum mesh wheels cool the outside air and then cool the hot air coming from the data center. The cooled air is then streamed back into the center.
“Technologically, it’s actually very simple,” said Leonard Weitman, vice-president of technical operations for the Vault. “What’s impressive about the system is how efficient it is and what a good match it is to the climate we have in central Oregon. It works so well because there are so many cool hours in a day here. Even when it’s 90 degrees out, it cools off by seven in the evening.”
The Kyoto units have the capacity to cool the air by as much as 30 degrees, and they deliver air into the data center at a steady 72 degrees. Each unit can move up to 66,000 cubic feet of air per minute. Because the system recycles air that’s already been filtered and humidified, the air doesn’t require additional filtration or humidifying as it circulates back into the data center. This conserves on water, a limited resource in the high desert.
The desert location is cold at night and very hot during the day, providing a opportunity to use Kyoto Cooling techniques to control energy costs.
Rather than storing energy in lead-acid batteries, power for each of the two 900-kilovolt-ampere (kVA) Active Power uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units is stored in a series of flywheels spinning at over 7,000 rpm. This solution eliminates the hazard of hydrogen release when a battery is charged and the environmental impacts of lead and acid.
There are two other key energy-saving systems in the Vault: solar panels and a hot-air containment system. Six hundred twenty-four solar panels manufactured by SolarWorld and installed by Sunlight Solar on the roof generate 152 kW of power, one-sixth of the power consumed when the data hall is full. The energy-efficient hot-air containment design allows cooling only where necessary.
Solar panels further add to the Vault's low energy profile.
The Vault is designed to operate at a power use efficiency ratio (PUE) of less than 1.2. “Data centers are very rapidly rising consumers of energy—they are consuming a disproportionate amount of the available energy,” said Weitman, “We suspect the government will have to regulate data center operations to control the growth in energy consumption, and we wanted to be ahead of that.”
Though the Kyoto Cooling system, solar panels, and hot-air containment system are the most energy-saving aspects of the Vault, BendBroadband designers used sustainability as the compass to guide the rest of the building design, as well. The wall insulation is made from recycled denim jeans rather than fiberglass pads. Pervious pavement, which allows water to seep directly into the ground, was used outside the building rather than traditional asphalt or concrete, which funnels water into storm sewers and then into rivers and streams. Indigenous plants were used in the landscaping, which require no irrigation after one year and little maintenance.
An early construction photo shows equipment being lowered into place.
The Vault’s green elements may be gaining this data center accolades, but there are many other notable aspects to the center beyond sustainability, including local, regional, and national connectivity, and diverse paths of entry for each of at least five telecommunication carriers.
Redundancy is another of the Vault’s key qualities. There are redundant paths of connectivity within the data center to each rack and redundant systems to ensure concurrent maintainability, including two 1.8-megawatt (MW) CAT diesel generators, two CAT transfer switches, two CAT-branded 900-kVA Active Power flywheel-based UPS units, and two dual-control and dual-fan 450-kW Kyoto Cooling units (N+1). Plus, the two generators can support four days of offline power with a full load of fuel. The Vault also offers a host of dedicated, managed services from business partner Logicalis, including data center relocation and migration, and private cloud development.
The designers of the Vault considered data safety paramount. That’s why the Vault has a network operations center monitoring all aspects of system-wide performance with on-site staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and state-of-the-art S2 Security IP-based security systems that allow flexible data logging and retrieval. Physical barriers to entry and biometric access controls allow only authorized personnel into the building. The Boon Edam Circlelock door, combined with a badge and finger print reader, provides selective interior access by personnel to only those locations in which they are authorized. The Vault also has a zoned, multilevel fire detection and suppression system, incorporating very early smoke detection apparatuses.
|Cooling wheel being lowered into place.|
BendBroadband wasn’t the only Bend-based company that wanted both a state-of-the-art and green data center—their anchor tenant St. Charles Health System was considering building their own data center in the area before choosing to partner with BendBroadband. St. Charles, headquartered in Bend, owns and operates the St. Charles medical centers in Bend and Redmond.
|Interior photo of the data center.|
Previously, they had co-located their data and servers in Hillsboro, OR, but wanted to relocate to Bend for a variety of reasons, including closer proximity, investing money in the local community, reduced data transport costs, and the environmentally responsible and energy saving aspects of a green data center.
St. Charles has reduced their co-location power costs by 30 percent. They estimate that by utilizing the Vault and investing in green server technologies such as virtualization and a high-density server platform, they will receive a return on investment over a five-year period of $7.1 million.
“It's not just going through a green data center, it’s investing in green technologies, as well,” said Dennis Martin, St. Charles’ IT manager.
|Interior photo of the data center.|
One opportunity that interested St. Charles was the capability to support high-density virtualization—running several virtual servers in one physical server chassis, and several of these blade chassis in one rack, a practice that creates hot spots within a data center. The Vault is able to efficiently deliver up to 21.6 kW of power to each rack, and then efficiently cool these hot spots by using the hot-air containment designed into the Chatsworth F Series cabinets. Conventional data center design cannot support this power or equipment density and results in less efficient use of valuable rack and floor space. The concentration of heat channeling up from the cabinet provides a significant temperature gap between the air to be cooled and the outside air used to cool it. This significant difference in temperature allows the Kyoto Cooling systems to operate much more efficiently than conventional cooling systems.
Because the Vault is a brand-new structure and designers planned for future cooling needs, St. Charles will not need to invest in upgrading infrastructure.
|Interior photo of the data center.|
“Oregon is one of the top rated states from a green perspective,” said Bill Winnenberg, St. Charles’ chief information officer. “We have a wonderful environment, and there’s a strong desire to maintain that environment.”
Designing the Vault with LEED Gold certification in mind and using a host of sustainable elements has brought the data center attention from the media and from companies that factor sustainability into their maneuvers. Simply put, making the Vault sustainable was a shrewd marketing decision. But, according to Weitman, sustainability is truly a company value. Oregon is a state that has positioned itself as a national leader in the green movement, and environmental-awareness is a philosophy found in the corporate cultures of many Oregon companies.
The Vault also takes precautions to maintain its reliability and availability, earning its status as a Tier III facility.
“As a company, BendBroadband had the desire to operate the Vault efficiently and in an environmentally friendly manner,” concluded Weitman. “That’s just the way we wanted it to operate.”