Cannistraro Blog

HVAC for Data Centers

August | 25 | 2017

Back to Basics: Simple Reminders for Data Center Maintenance

Cloud computing and the “internet of things” have created seemingly endless opportunities for development, construction and operation of data centers globally and here in the United States.  Back home in Boston, slower growth and expansion of data center operations has traditionally been attributed to the size of the city (relative to other, larger data center markets), and the region’s high costs for power, energy and real estate.  The tide, however, seems to be changing.

With so much of Boston and its surrounding areas expanding real estate portfolios in the life sciences and healthcare market sectors, the need for secure data and stronger connectivity will continue to increase.  As the area continues to make strides as a hub for science and innovation, these high-tech factors will become (if they aren’t already) prerequisite needs for tenants and building owners.

According to recent data published by Data Center Frontier, there is nearly 900,000 square feet of space located in the Boston area commissioned for data center operations.  Whether for new or existing spaces, data center maintenance becomes critically important to facility management.  Each data center may serve multiple clients and every client has little margin for error, zero capacity for downtime nor ability to risk system failure.  Chief among these concerns tied to data center maintenance are the HVAC systems that impact and/or control air quality, energy usage and overall cooling.  Engineers, Operations and Facility Managers are keenly aware of the efficiency of their data center cooling systems, as this equipment is running constantly; accounting for the lion’s share of the facility’s energy consumption.  Putting this in perspective, data centers in the U.S. alone are expected to consume energy to the tune of 73 billion kWh by the year 2020, according to a 2016 report from the Berkeley Lab & U.S. Department of Energy.

So what does all this mean for those charged with data center maintenance here in New England?  Based upon the needs and nuances of your particular facility, try an approach that starts with two simple steps: research and planning.

  1. Research

While not every data center is the same, you can learn a lot from your peers.  Publications focused on data center operations (try Mission Critical or Data Center Journal) are prevalent and provide current trends, news and regulations, as well as stories from others in the industry.  The commercial real estate media organization Bisnow offers a free data center newsletter, and contractors with data center project experience often publish case studies to the web with interesting lessons learned and best practices. (Why not start with ours: Critical Cooling – Keeping a Data Center Operational).

  1. Planning

Is planned maintenance part of your facility management strategy?  Do you have a preventative maintenance agreement with a reputable service contractor?  Are all the buildings on campus up to date with required weekly, monthly and/or yearly inspections for things like fire protection or refrigerant for HVAC equipment?   Checklists can be helpful tools for keeping your organized, for example:

 It’s never too early to take control of future headaches by planning ahead. 


data center cooling