Doug Harding, manager, facility engineering for Digital Realty, was named first runner up in Mission Critical Magazine’s Facility Manager of the Year Award for 2018. Currently Doug is responsible for the day to day customer projects throughout a campus of 12 buildings that include 1.5M sq ft of white space with associated customer office space. The award recognizes achievement in three areas: efficiency, innovation, and management.
According to his nomination form, Doug achieved efficiency by working towards LED-only lighting and moving away from halogen and compact fluorescent lighting with hazardous mercury. This switch has resulted in energy cost saving and increased energy efficiency throughout the facilities. He also implemented the use of natural sunlight, instead of turning on overhead lights, to light indoor rooms in a facility.
He implemented EnerNOC, which monitors power usage, and has allowed for shedding load on high-demand days. When a building is consuming too much power, EnerNOC sends out an alert allowing facility operators to shut down, certain equipment not being used to help shed energy load.
In addition, he facilitated the use of white paint for facility rooftops, allowing greater percentage of sunlight to be reflected, whereas black paint on roofs only reflect about 20% of the sunlight leaving the facility hotter.
Throughout his data center career, Doug has witnessed the growth of the industry and the equipment involved in the mission critical facilities. To witness the evolving industry to where it is today and be part of customer input, offering ideas to replace older products after they have been vetted out, is an inspirational part of Doug’s daily work as the industry continues to evolve. Doug’s mission is to ensure highest levels of customer satisfaction — and if that requires installing a new product, then he’s committed to make it happen to meet the enduser’s specific needs.
Having spent more than 12 years in the data center industry Doug has seen evolving Methods of Procedures (MOP), Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), and emergency operating procedures processes. At one of his previous positions, he was instrumental in creating the MOP template which he refined with innovative hands-on input. The template, created eight years ago, is still widely used within the industry.
A solution-oriented data center professional, Doug is committed to finding the right solutions for his customers rather than simply offer ‘the spec.’ Doug spends the time and the effort to discuss the customer’s specific needs to help resolve their pain points. Giving up on offering the best solution to a customer’s challenges is not his forte, he never walks away and lets the problem fall on someone else.
Doug operates in a fairly hands-off management style allowing his team to forge a professional path in conducting all tasks accurately — while allowing independence in running their own projects. If his staff runs into a roadblock Doug is ready to step in and help where needed.
Doug’s process is to work with the customer about the end-solution and then determine the process to achieve that on schedule and without glitches. Providing regular updates to the customer eliminates all misunderstandings or misinformation from his end. One of his signature email sign-offs is inviting customers to follow-up with questions if something doesn’t make sense or work for them. “Always go to the source for the most accurate information,” is his motto. Exceeding customer expectations and working directly with the customer is the best route to full customer satisfaction he says.
Doug’s current project team will expand as he looks to hire additional employees in 2019.
As part of his duties Doug has been personally responsible for well over 100 megawatts of MEP infrastructure installation and commissioning, including CyrusOne’s “Goliath” build, located in Sterling, VA, which was completed in just 186 days from start to finish. He managed multiple trades to bring various install efforts to completion with no injuries or damages. When lifting 2.5 MW generators by crane, it can get a little dicey. Ensuring the proper teams are on site and managing them in a safe and timely manner is the key.
Doug previously worked with HITT Contracting where he was a large part of turning over multiple data center builds for many different clients. His title “MEP Manager” meant that he ensured all data center MEP equipment was correct per the spec and installed, started up, commissioned, and turned over to the customer as intended and originally designed. He also managed day-to-day deliveries and coordination of equipment along with the install plan for that equipment.
Since starting his career as an entry-level data center engineer 12 years ago, Doug has learned a lot from working in multiple facilities in multiple states and building them from the ground up. He has seen a lot of technology advancements in the past 12 years and is very excited to see what the next 12 years bring. Datacenter Alley has just begun to grow and the potential is limitless. Throughout Doug’s data center career, he has strived to turn his facilities to ‘green’ and efficient operations. Achieving LEED certification, or receiving a higher LEED® certification than previously obtained is his mission as he works to optimize his facilities’ energy efficiency.