EDS, Wynyard, Stockton-on-Tees

EDS, Wynyard, Stockton-on-Tees

Client: Electronic Data Systems (EDS)
Contractor: Interior Service Group PLC (ISG)
Engineer: Norman Disney Young
Type of works: supply and installation of BOOTH-FD fire doors.

In June 2008, architects Houseman Henderson, engineers Norman Disney Young and contractors Interior Service Group (ISG) plc were given a challenge to design and build the UK’s first low energy data centre utilizing ‘free air’ cooling. One year on the first phase of the scheme has been successfully completed, pioneering new ventilation systems and design techniques.

Electronic Data Systems (EDS), owned by Hewlett Packard, commissioned the creation of a state of the art facility at Wynward, Stockton-on-Tees. The first phase of the project comprises four data halls using the ‘free air’ cooling system with full UPS backup and stand-by diesel generators.

Paul Pompili, Divisional Director for ISG said: “If data centres were classed as a separate industry they would be the sixth largest user of electricity. Traditionally a data centre uses several thousand megawatts hours per year, much of which goes towards keeping the systems cool. Our challenge by EDS was to cut this dramatically and reduce EDS’s carbon footprint using new design and construction techniques.”

The scheme began in June 2009 and has run for 13 months. ISG were given the task of renovating an existing 300,000 sq ft warehouse structure on the site. The completed data halls now fill half of the space, with future plans to redevelop the other part of the building as the facility demands grow.

Work started with the necessary alterations to the original building fabric and removing all internal rainwater systems from the building. The task then was to construct a new overcladding to the roof followed by probably the biggest challenge, to construct an innovative new ventilation system to achieve an annual energy saving of up to 40 percent for the data centre.

The new system constructed uses cold air blowing off the North Sea to keep the four data halls cool. This involved the construction of a ventilated structural floor five metres above floor level. The plenum this created allows air to circulate and cool the building and equipment. The circulation of the air is driven by 32 air handling units, each 14m high, which allow recirculation to maintain a consistent internal environment.

Paul said: “The biggest challenge was without doubt the ventilation system, but what we learnt from the project is the importance of utilising our sub-contractors expertise and spending time on some ‘blue sky thinking’, which paid dividends in putting the scheme together.

“Working closely with contractors we installed the new plenum and air handling units without a hitch and work was completed on budget and on schedule.”

Apart from the ventilation systems, the other key element of the project was the roof. Work consisted of 2 types of roof systems, the first being the installation of a standing seam to the existing roof of the main building, the second the addition of a single ply high performance membrane to the existing roof covering of the office building.

On the main building a Keybemo roof was constructed using a new Caskade Hydra high capacity hydraulic rainwater management system installed above existing valley gutters. This uses high speed hydraulic water channels integrated into the body of the gutter to transfer rainwater discharge outlets away from the high-risk interior of the building, to the low-risk exterior.

On the office building a single ply high performance membrane roof system was added which consisted of laying an isolation fleece and 1.5mm Cefil PVC mechanically fixed and heat welded membrane system over the existing PVC covered roof.

With the roof and ventilation system complete, the next priority was the fire safety and security of the building. Paul said: “Protection of data is a fundamental element of any data centre construction and it was a key issue on this site. We knew it was paramount to have a highly effective security and fire safety system in place. After much research we brought in specialists Frontline Security Solutions (FSS) and steel door experts, Booth Commercial, an operating arm of Booth Industries Limited.”

Booth, a specialist, global provider of performance certified steel doors, was already involved in another major data centre project where they were installing circa £1.5M worth of blast rated and fire resistant doors.

Booth was brought in to supply and install 60-minute and 120-minute powder-coated and stainless-steel fire doors. These doors used state of the art electrical locking and monitoring mechanisms which Booth installed alongside FSS. Now complete the data centre has an integrated security system, with monitoring and control devices on all internal doors, all of which boast high levels of fire protection, particularly on key areas of the data centre.

Both companies received ‘Trade Contractor of the Month' awards during the progress of their sub-contract works.

The final project was completed in October 2009, on schedule, demonstrating the effective team effort in design and construction development to resolve manufacturing and construction issues. Paul Pompili from ISG puts this down to co-operative working. He said: “The project ran smoothly despite the fact that there were lots of different subcontractors involved and we were using new techniques such as the fresh air systems which could have created complications. This success can be put down to all the contractors working closely together to ensure things ran smoothly and deadlines were met.”

The final scheme is now one of the largest and most energy efficient data centres in the world, achieving a Power Utilisation Efficiency (PUE) of 1.16 against the current best practice 1.5.

The design won the Green Data Centre category at the Data Centre Leaders Awards in December 2008, and following completion in October it has been entered in for a further three design awards.

“ISG were constantly addressing the challenges of delivery with innovative ideas. The team’s ability to react and adapt to day-to-day changes and re-programming including the evolving design process, was outstanding.” said Maurice Julian, Critical Facilities Manager of EDS.'

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