IBM's New Data Center Brings Home the Gold

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC — IBM chose an existing building to house what would become the company's most technologically advanced green data center.

Construction on the newly opened facility reused 95 percent of the building's original shell, while the company recycled 90 percent of the original building's materials. Reuse of the building helped land LEED Gold certification for data center, which the company expects to save more than $1 million in its first year of operation, IBM has announced.

"Through local sourcing, recycling and tremendous innovation we've been able to achieve a significant milestone for the company and further solidify IBM's commitment to Research Triangle Park," Bob Greenberg, IBM's senior state executive in North Carolina, said in a statement. "Data centers have always been a critical part of IBM 's global delivery network and this facility, our cloud computing data center, has furthered IBM's ability to deliver innovation and value to customers around the world."

Helping to earn the company LEED points is a reflective roof designed to temper indoor temperatures, while the facility utilizes free-cooling nearly half of the year when outside air is put to work keeping the data center cool. A smart sensor network monitors and adjusts temperature and relative humidity in the data center, helping reduce energy spend by 15 percent. All of these measures played a role in nearly halving the facility's carbon footprint.

Other features include a rainwater collection system that may capture an estimated 3.5 million gallons of non-potable water each year that will be used at the data center.

The facility, which IBM estimated in 2008 would cost about $360 million, utilized a modular design method called IBM Enterprise Modular Data Center. The company claims the design can cut build-out time nearly in half, offering administrators the flexibility in deferring significant capital and operational costs until expansion demand is warranted.

The 100,000 square-foot data center, designed to support cloud computing, opened in February.