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  • Data Centers - Strategizing for Flexible Air Quality Permits

    A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…air quality permits were simply a few pages allowing construction and operation of data centers. By: Ali Farnoud, Principal at Ramboll With the exponential increase in the number of data centers across the United States and the quantity of emergency generators employed, air quality permits have grown increasingly complex, resulting in conditions that could impact operational flexibility. However, data centers may utilize various tools to allow more flexibility in their air permits. For example, a limit of 4,000 hours per year may obstruct a data center operator’s ability to run the engines during an emergency for a facility that operates 120 engines, whereas the same facility may not feel as stifled with a limit of 700,000 gallons of fuel consumption per year, which meets the exact same regulatory purpose. In a world of convoluted air quality permits, data centers should strategize the approach to air permitting early in the design process to ensure that they will not be blindsided by impractical air permit conditions. Multiple factors impact a facility’s air quality permit strategy, including: - Attainment status: The attainment status of an area describes the area’s proximity to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for a certain pollutant. Multiple areas in the United States are considered “nonattainment” with respect to ozone and particulate matter, resulting in strict regulations for emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOX) and volatile organic compounds, ozone precursors, and particulate matter (PM). As NOX and PM are also the two main pollutants generated by diesel combustion, nonattainment areas could result in lower allowable emissions for data centers before stringent permit requirements apply. For example, an area in attainment for ozone typically has allowable emissions of up to the Title V major source threshold of 100 tons per year of NOX before the need to study emission controls while an area in severe nonattainment means that NOX emissions of 25 tons per year could trigger such requirements. The ability to later modify the data center is also severely limited in nonattainment areas. For projects exceeding the major source threshold and certain modification threshold, the facility is required to purchase Emission Reduction Credits (ERCs), which are expensive and, in some locations, unavailable. - Runtime Hours: Most data centers prefer to stay below the Title V and/or Nonattainment New Source Review (NNSR) major source threshold(s) to avoid stricter regulations. In other words, in an area with a major source threshold of 100 tons per year, the requested regulatory limit would be, at most, 99.9 tons per year. The main question then, is the number of hours the emergency generators can operate before bumping against this limit. If, for instance, the limit is 50 tons per year of NOX in a serious nonattainment area and each generator emits up to 50 pounds per hour of NOX, there will be 2,000 hours of runtime available for the entire facility. This may be enough runtime for a data center with 40 generators, but certainly not enough if 100 generators are involved. In most cases, a fuel limit would allow additional flexibility. If the permit includes an hour limit, any operations of the generators will count towards the hour. However, if the permit includes a fuel limit instead, typical maintenance and testing operations that combust a small amount of fuel will not have a significant impact on the facility’s ability to operate. Calculating the emissions directly using the load percentages, guaranteed emission rates at each load, and hours of operation at each load is another flexible methodology if such data could be easily obtained, but this approach requires a conversation with the permitting agency. Regardless of the approach, by planning the air permitting process with a target amount of emergency runtime hours needed after the planned maintenance and testing hours are excluded, we are able to provide immense clarity to the entire air permitting process and need for emission controls. Should emission controls such as selective catalytic reduction (SCR) be necessary to achieve the desired emergency runtime hours, this decision can be made in advance to avoid long permitting times, significant changes in engineering design, and unexpected increases to project capital budgets. - Emergency vs. Non-emergency Operations: While the operation of emergency generators is primarily limited to maintenance, testing, and emergency, federal regulations recognize that the engines can be used for certain non-emergency operations outside of peak shaving and generating income for the facility and grant an annual 50-hour allowance for such purposes. The definition of emergency generators in some states differ from the federal definition and, therefore, some states do not allow for such non-emergency operations. The regulatory nuances should be reviewed prior to obtaining an air permit. If certain operations are essential to the facility, alternative permitting options can be considered. - Expansion Plans: The full build for a data center is rarely permitted at the outset. Data centers usually permit individual expansions as new customers approach them or as certain design milestones at the company solidify. There should be multiple considerations that are made prior to such phased permitting approach. First, it usually benefits the data center to consider the possibility of any future expansion plans from the beginning. The facility may be able to live with a limit of 50 tons per year of NOX with the first two phases but not after additional phases are implemented. If the facility decides to stay below the regulatory threshold, the potential for additional control equipment and retrofitting should be reviewed to ensure that the design will allow for such retrofits in the future. Secondly, there are certain regulations related to project aggregation that could apply to the facility which could prevent a phased permitting approach. Each phase should conduct a project aggregation analysis to ensure compliance with the regulations. - State Regulatory Requirements: Various states have implemented permitting policies either covering all industries or specific to data centers. Such regulations should be reviewed before obtaining an air permit. For instance, some states require air dispersion modeling, which could mean significant limitations on facility operations or require emission control installation. Other states require a Best Available Control Technology analysis regardless of the major source threshold. These situations could result in significant limitations for the facility. Pre-planning as well as a pre-application meeting with the state could inform data centers about any potential state policies. Each of the items noted above comes with significant caveats. For example, a state could require air dispersion modeling only if the facility exceeds a certain threshold separate from the major source threshold. However, the alphabet of an initial permit strategy remains the same, and given the difference among state regulation and policies, it always starts with the location. In his fantasy novel, The Hobbit, J.R.R Tolkien says, “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near one.” That is particularly true if the live dragon could significantly impact construction schedule or the capital expenditure. About Author: Ali Farnoud is a Principal with Ramboll focusing on air quality permitting and regulatory compliance. His consulting experience spans over 15 years and various industries, but given his familiarity with the engine regulations, he serves as Ramboll’s global air quality subject matter expert for data centers. Ali holds a doctoral degree in Environmental Engineering with a research focus on controlling diesel particulate matter. He has taught various air quality courses, including over 40 workshops discussing state regulations.

  • Water Conservation in Data Centers

    Data center cooling system designs of the past have used a great deal of water to achieve a low Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) while at the same time fitting the client’s capital expense (CAPEX) and operating cost (OPEX) business goals. By: Scott Wilson, PE Partner at EYP Mission Critical Facilities Today, there is mounting pressure to reduce water consumption as well. We are starting to hear corporations pledging to be “water positive” which means restoring more water than what they use. In most climates (except for the most humid or most cold environments), the benefits of cooling using the evaporation of water is well established and beneficial from an energy consumption standpoint in all but the most humid or most cold environments. Unfortunately, what is also often true is that water can be expensive or have limited/ inconsistent availability in dry climates. There are a number of options available. A business model approach yields a clear path to the best option. Here are a few: A simple solution is to build the data center in a more favorable climate. A data center designed with a refrigerant-based cooling system augmented with evaporative cooling for Sterling, VA will use less cooling-related energy if built near Chicago, IL, and also use less water. From a business perspective based on location or latency, a favorable CAPEX and OPEX cooling climate may be quickly ruled out. Another option is to use refrigerant-based cooling systems that do not consume water like air-cooled chillers. All things being equal, these systems will consume more energy than those that leverage evaporative cooling but may have a lower CAPEX. From a business perspective, the CAPEX vs. OPEX may be acceptable, possibly making it a preferred choice. One of the fundamentals to understanding cooling energy consumption in data centers is the entering temperature of the heat transfer media (i.e., air or liquid) cooling the IT. The other is how the media is delivered to the IT (e.g., air handling units, cooling distribution units) and heat is rejected to the environment. Designers of water-cooled IT and immersion cooling systems have for many years recognized that given their system's ability to remove heat from the chips more efficiently than air-cooled IT, they can raise the coolant temperature high enough that in some climates no mechanical refrigeration is required. If the business goal is to eliminate water use, converting a data center to a liquid IT environment should reduce evaporative cooling needs. These days it is not practical for most owners to convert to all liquid-cooled IT overnight. However, if the piping systems and associated cooling and heat rejection equipment are divided into separate systems, a strategy can be developed for long-term migration to liquid-cooled IT which will reduce the consumption of both water and cooling energy. In conclusion, the balance of IT spending and the facility CAPEX and OPEX will drive the decision for any owner, but liquid-cooled IT offers a substantial opportunity to reduce a data center cooling system’s water and energy consumption. We should expect to see a steady growth in the use of liquid-cooled IT as we see more pressure to conserve water. About Author: Scott Wilson is EYP MCF, Part of Ramboll CEO and leads the mechanical department on Government Projects. Scott’s experience started in 1978 in mechanical systems design for institutional, government, commercial and industrial buildings, Scott Wilson is a Partner, and senior hands-on engineer for EYP MCF, Part of Ramboll. Scott’s project experience includes data center projects in the health care, higher education, science research, colocation and Hyperscale industry. Scott’s tenure with EYP MCF, Part of Ramboll started in 2005, follows his long tenure with EYP Architecture and Engineering. Much of Team EYP MCF, Part of Ramboll’s continued collaborative data center work is often coordinated and performed under Scott’s leadership. Scott’s project experience includes work across the United States and for the US State Department in more than 20 countries worldwide

  • We are very pleased to issue our spring newsletter!

    In late January, we announced that EYPMCF would be joining Ramboll. We couldn’t be more excited about this next chapter and joining this leading global engineering consultancy. Joining Ramboll has given us the global platform needed to service our clients around the world as they grow and expand. It also gives us a much broader portfolio of capabilities to offer our clients, including ESG consulting and due diligence to support data center acquisitions. We look forward to continuing to expand our reach across the world as part of this terrific platform. We are also extremely impressed by the culture, focus on employees, and dedication to sustainability that Ramboll has, which is so important to our client base and the data center community in general. Please don’t hesitate to ask us for information or a live discussion on all of our combined capabilities in this space. At the same time, it is business as usual at EYPMCF as we continue to drive thought leadership in the space and develop new innovative approaches to design and assurance in data centers. In this issue of the newsletter, we have included a new white paper on embodied carbon, and blog pieces on water conservation, air quality permits, and Blockchain data centers specifications. There are also new case studies about new client work around the globe. In addition, we are thrilled to announce that our own Steve Shapiro, PE will be speaking at the upcoming 7x24 event in June. Lastly, we hope to see all of you at the industry events we are sponsoring this month – DCD in NYC, and Data Cloud in Monaco. Best – Rick and Brian Download the latest white papers ■ Towards more sustainable data center design using a CHP case study ■ Demand response opportunities for data center embedded generation and energy storage systems ■ Reaching for Net-Zero: Achieving Zero Carbon Data Centers by Decentralizing Consensus of Power Supply Amongst Utility and Microgrid Providers ■ The Case for Natural Gas Generators ■ West 7 Center: Using a Data Center Water Side Economizer on an existing facility to reduce water and energy usage ■ ​Infrastructure Sustainability Options and Revenue Opportunities for Data Centers

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  • EYP Mission Critical Facilities, Part of Ramboll | Home | United States

    Panel COVID AND ITS IMPACT ON DATA CENTER CONSTRUCTION AND EQUIPMENT PROCUREMENT Moderated by: Steve Shapiro, PE Register Here Our Focus Critical facilities solutions aligned to the digital revolution. Secure. Reliable. Flexible. Efficient. Read More Strategy Design Commissioning Sustainability DUE DILIGENCE Assurance Accomplishments & Credentials Sample Case Studies High Efficiency Off The Grid Datacenter Beacon Falls, CT 160,000 SF (Raised Floor) Data Center Master Plan 28 MW of IT Load EYP MCF, Part of Ramboll’s Master Plan for this Tier III data center developer is premised on the capture of CO2 from the fuel cells to use for beverage production. ​ The site will utilize a 32 MW fuel facility with gas-fired generators as the primary power source, using the utility as backup capacity. The facility will use a chilled water central plant with centrifugal chillers to provide an absorption mechanical system. 300 Acre Data Center Campus with a 500+MW Utility-Scale Solar Facility Laramie, WY 300-acre Data Center Campus Design 25-200 MW EYP MCF, Part of Ramboll is developing the conceptual design, building budget, and cost of power analysis for a new data center expected to have 25MW capacity Day 1, with the ability to scale to 200MW over time. ​ Set in a data center business park, to be located on 300-acres of privately-owned land designated as a Federal Opportunity Zone, the project also calls for a 500+MW Utility-Scale Solar Facility on up to 12,000-acres of the client's Ranch located in southeast Wyoming. Gas Turbines Low Emission Data Center Martinsburg, WV Greenfield Data Center Design 2 x 350,000 SF (Raised Floor) EYP MCF, Part of Ramboll provided master planning and detailed design for a site capable of housing two 350,000 SF, 78MW data centers with a critical design load for the site of 104MW. ​ The project intends to use GE gas turbines as the primary power source and will include a unique and proprietary Linde/BASF carbon capture technology to eliminate all emissions from turbines. The facility is planned to utilize totally modular IT space, with mechanical and electrical Infrastructure using PVD Modular solutions. Immersion Cooling for Bitcoin Mining Coshocton, Ohio Data Center Campus Feasibility Study, Master Planning, Design 34 Units 70+MW ​ EYP MCF, Part of Ramboll is providing a data center feasibility study, master planning, and detailed design to convert an existing manufacturing site into a Bitcoin mining campus. ​ The project design specifications include 34 modular data center units and will utilize liquid immersion cooling to run the heat intensive data mining technologies. 38-acre Data Center Campus Ashburn, VA Tier III+ 5MW Commissioning, Level 2 to 5 EYP MCF, Part of Ramboll was selected to provide commissioning service for this 38-acre Data Center campus residing in the heart of the nation’s densest connectivity corridor. EYP MCF, Part of Ramboll will perform the commissioning of multiple quadrants with a total of 5MW of IT Load in 3 different phases. EYP MCF, Part of Ramboll’s scope included the development and maintenance of issues log (Commissioning Deficiency list) tracking observations in the field related to construction. The goal of this log is to monitor and prioritize identified items. EYP MCF, Part of Ramboll provided Level 2 through Level 5 commissioning, the services offered included complying with the customer standards as well as reviewing of the MEP documents, Detailed review report of submittals, shop drawings, controls of sequence of operations and equipment monitoring and alarm, and the performance of infrared testing of electrical equipment per NETA-ATS requirements. Four Story Data Center Santa Clara, CA 160,450 SF 16MW Commissioning, Level 1 to 5 IST EYP MCF, Part of Ramboll role was to act as commissioning authority (CxA) for the phased buildout for this Colocation provider. ​ The project was programmed to be designed as a four-story, 16-MW (IT load) facility of approximately 160,450 SF. EYP MCF, Part of Ramboll provided data center commissioning services for the project throughout the design, construction, start-up, and the initial period of operation. ​ The primary role of the EYP MCF, Part of Ramboll Commissioning Authority (CxA) was to act as the owner’s advocate to ensure that all parties adhere to the design intent and the contract documents. To achieve this objective, the CxA role was to assist with defining and documenting the Owner’s criteria for system function, performance, and maintainability in addition to developing and coordinating the execution of a testing plan and observing and documenting the performance of installed systems. Global Pharmaceutical Master Planning Multiple Locations Data Center Sourcing Options, TCO Analysis, Colocation RFI Development & Selection This Global Pharmaceutical company was looking for a company that can support with their facility assessments of their data centers and local server rooms associated with manufacturing and research sites. These assessments included: ​ Review of all major MEP systems, identification of single points of failure, and remediation recommendations. IT Deployment assessment: Development of IT inventory, layout, and rack elevations for existing inventory as well as planned deployments of new systems and layout, IT deployment and structured cabling. Develop a Data Center sourcing strategy to define In-house/Colo/Cloud environments. Support on identifying and selecting Colocation candidates in multiple countries around the globe. Hospital Group Hybrid IT & Data Center Strategy Boston, MA Multi-Cloud Strategy & Co-Location Selection One of the country’s largest healthcare consortiums was in the process of merging. This merge included multiple regional hospitals. The hospital IT and Real Estate organizations were seeking a strategy to combine and consolidate data centers between all hospitals. The goal was to modernize, increase resiliency, reduce cost, exploit new architectures, and reduce the reliance upon leased space. They needed someone to help these two large organizations come to develop options and costs for this complex planning effort. The options included a Data Center Sourcing Strategy to discuss the options to host their applications in different Multi-Cloud environments (In-house, Co-Location providers and Private Cloud Providers) Data Center Due Diligence Multiple Locations Across the United States 8 Data Centers EYP MCF, Part of Ramboll was selected to provide due diligence site evaluation service of more than 8 data centers in the U.S. territory relative to their ongoing use and possible expansions. ​ The scope included on reviewing the existing building infrastructures as well as the data center operations including maintenance documentation (SOP, EOP, MOP’s), man-power of the facility, capital operating expenditures and budges for the last 5 years. ​ The study provided information on redundancy, drawbacks and limitations, SPOF, description on commissioning reports, geo studies, BMS Systems, Security, branch circuit monitoring, and software solutions. ​ EYP MCF, Part of Ramboll also provided Analysis and commentary on refurbishment, maintenance and upgrade capital required, review expansion plans and budgets. Data Center Due Diligence North America and Europe 16 Data Centers EYP MCF, Part of Ramboll was selected to provide Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing/Fire Protection (MEP/FP) services culminating in a due diligence review of each site. ​ The purpose of the review was to give a professional opinion on the condition of the existing facility infrastructure relative to its ongoing use and possible expansion as a data center facility. EYP MCF, Part of Ramboll followed a plan that started with the review of all the available documentation of each site, conducted a site visit of 13 of the 16 Data Centers, and the remaining 3 developed a desktop review. ​ The evaluation included the review of the building infrastructure relative to the data center operations and maintenance documentation. EYP Mission Critical Facilities, Inc. has become part of Ramboll Ramboll is a global sustainable engineering, architecture and consultancy company operating from 300 offices in 35 countries, many in the fastest-growing regions for data center expansion – including a strong presence in the Americas. Joining with Ramboll positions us to offer services to clients anywhere in the world, from site selection through to full design and commissioning. We look forward to continuing and expanding our relationship with you as we move forward together as part of Ramboll. Learn more at

  • Kevin Sanders | Principal Consultant | EYP MCF USA

    Leadership Kevin Sanders Principal Consultant, Data Center Strategy Kevin has over 35 years of experience in the planning, design, implementation and management of data centers, information systems and networks/communications systems. As a consultant for the past 25 years, Kevin has worked with many colleges and research universities, healthcare, pharmaceutical and financial institutions, including from the Fortune 100 list. Kevin is responsible for all client strategic data center consulting work for EYP Mission Critical Facilities. Kevin spearheaded the use of both financial and technical architecture models to allow clients to understand the “cost timeline” for infrastructure, technology and organizational options to assist CIO’s / CTO’s / and CFO’s in the control and predictability of their Hybrid IT and Data Center budgets

  • | eypmcf

    Join Steven Shapiro, P.E. Partner at EYP Mission Critical Facilities Data Center World Phoenix Convention Center, Arizona Wednesday, March 20th, 2019 12:40 PM - 1:40 PM Data Center Infrastructure Operational Best Practices EYP Mission Critical Facilities has become part of Ramboll, a sustainable engineering, architecture and consultancy company founded in Denmark in 1945. Today Ramboll operates from 300 offices in 35 countries, many in the fastest-growing regions for data center expansion – including a strong presence in the Americas. Joining with Ramboll positions us to offer services to clients anywhere in the world, from site selection through to full design and commissioning. We look forward to continuing and expanding our relationship with you as we move forward together as part of Ramboll. Learn more at BOOK NOW never miss an update Subscribe JOIN OUR MAILING LIST

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