Monday, 27 October 2014

New Seattle Data Centre Proposes to Recycle Waste Heat

At the corner of Sixth Ave and Bell St in downtown Seattle, Washington (USA) sits a parking lot.  That parking lot is within a reasonable distance of a newly built Amazon data centre as well as numerous high-rise office buildings and ongoing development projects.  If a company known as Clise Properties has its way, the lot will become a 12-story data centre with a state-of-the-art system that recycles waste heat and sends it to nearby office buildings.

Clise Properties and Graphite Design Group propose to design and build a new data centre with a completion date of early 2017.  They have already submitted initial plans to the local Planning Award for review.  The key to getting the approval they need is their waste heat recycling system.  It is a system that Clise has already successfully implemented for Amazon as part of the Westin building development.

The new data centre will devote the first two floors to UPS and power and cooling needs.  The remaining eight floors will be data centre space at about 11,000 ft.² per floor.  The space is likely to be used by everything from individual hosting companies to enterprise clients leasing dedicated equipment.

As you know, a data centre of this size will generate tremendous amounts of heat.  Temperatures in the region of 38°C are not unusual for the air coming off cooling fans however, rather than allowing this heat to be wasted through the venting though, Clise plans to use an extensive duct system to send it to nearby office buildings that are part of the same development complex.  This will enable the other buildings to keep tenants warm while still reducing energy bills.

What Clise is doing in Seattle is not unique to them; other projects designed to recycle waste heat have been undertaken by Telecity (France), Telehouse (UK) and IBM (Switzerland) to name just a few.  Recycling waste heat is an extremely simple and efficient way to reduce energy costs by harnessing something that would otherwise be vented into the air.

Onward and Upward

It seems unlikely that the city of Seattle would reject the plans submitted by Clise and Graphite barring some exceptional circumstance no one is aware of yet.  The plan to build a state-of-the-art data centre in one of America's most tech savvy cities has many obvious advantages.  Being able to recycle waste heat for the purposes of space heating is an added bonus that should effectively secure development approval.

It would be nice to see this sort of data centre facility become the de facto standard all over the world and that may very well happen.  As the world looks for ways to be more energy efficient and cost-effective it just does not make sense to continue wasting the heat generated by server farms.  It is essentially free heat just waiting to be harnessed for other purposes.  To not take advantage of it is akin to throwing a lot of money away.

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