What was once a carbon-emitting coal-fired power plant will soon become a state-of-the-art data center and renewable energy campus.

The location of the former State Line Generating Facility, situated just outside of Chicago along Lake Michigan, is undergoing a complete transformation to become the new Digital Crossroads at Lake Michigan Data Center. Several unique features about the site enabled developers to incorporate sustainable features into the data center’s design.

Data centers naturally produce a lot of heat, so Digital Crossroads will have systems to capture the excess heat energy for use in its greenhouse, helping to ensure that none of it will be wasted. The greenhouse is planned to serve Purdue University Northwest students and faculty in various programs.

Lake Michigan winds will be used to cool the site, and engineers are also looking at using water from the lake in cooling systems. The building will have other additional green features like enhanced public spaces with access to the lakefront property and a new bike path built by the developers.

Also helping to further the project’s green agenda are the plans of regional utility provider NIPSCO (Northwest Indiana Public Services Co.) to retire its remaining coal portfolio in the near future, replacing them with wind and solar power generation.

“Cleaning up a former coal plant involves tons of effort and regulation, and without such strong support from the city of Hammond and the state of Indiana it wouldn’t have been possible. Governor Holcomb knew that if his administration supported technology it would drive innovation in Indiana,” said Tom Dakich of Digital Crossroads.

“There’s been unbelievable cooperation — the state, county, city, and power company all believe in us,” said Peter Feldman, CEO of Digital Crossroads. “This project is going to change how data centers operate and impact the environment, serving as a great example for other projects around the world.”

Work on the first phase of the project as already begun. Developers will initially invest approximately $40 million to construct a 105,000-sq-ft facility on approximately 12 acres of the 77-acre site, which will include a data center and shared-space tech incubator. Ultimately, the project has the potential to grow into a $200 million complex with multiple buildings for state-of-the-art data computing and storage.