Imagine, if you will, taking a 1917 Ford Model T, tearing out its old engine, and popping in a state-of-the-art, environmentally friendlier hybrid engine. The notion, while enticing from both technological and eco-friendly perspectives, would seem downright daft. While a 90-year-old automobile may well be beyond significant environmental, money-saving upgrades, a 90-year-old building in Chicago is not.
Digital Realty, which owns, acquires, and manages technology-related real estate worldwide, announced late last week that it's the first company to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification for a datacenter facility. Adding to the achievement is the fact that the Chicago-based facility was originally constructed in 1917 as the R.R. Donnelly printing plant.
"This project shatters the myth that LEED certification can only be achieved within newer facilities," says Jim Smith, vice president of engineering at Digital Realty.
For those of you who don't have "LEED" tucked away in the acronym section of your memory bank, it's the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings. The rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.
"LEED guidelines incorporate so many proven best practices for building engineering and construction," says Smith. "Following those best practices results in facilities that are very cost-effective from both a construction and operations point of view. Anything that makes datacenters more efficient is a good thing from a business point of view -- both for our Digital Realty Trust and for our customers."
Digital Realty's project is a built-to-suit datacenter for an undisclosed Fortune Global 500 company. The facility features 20,000 square feet of raised-floor space with 4,000 kW of available IT load, according to Digital Realty. Features of this particular project include sophisticated tools for measuring energy consumption ("Step one for energy-efficient operations is always to have a way to measure," says Smith), as well as equipment and a monitoring system that "ensures the air is clean, and helps us improve performance of the ventilation system and improve indoor air quality."
(For more from Smith about the project and LEED, check out this Q&A.)