ACT Lands First LEED-Platinum Rating for Data Center in U.S.

ACT Lands First LEED-Platinum Rating for Data Center in U.S.

ACT, the nonprofit that established the American College Testing Program 50 years ago, has attained LEED-Platinum green building certification for the organization's data center -- the first in the country to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council's highest rating.

The company, which now provides services for lifelong learning, opened the data center in February 2008 and received its certification in July, ACT told and today.
Inside the ACT data center. Photo by Farshid Assassi, courtesy of Neumann Monson
The new 8,000-square-foot operations center building includes a 4,000-square-foot raised floor data center and a geothermal system that serves as a cooling source and contributes to energy efficiency, according to KJWW Engineering Consultants, which worked with Neumann Monson Architects and McComas-Lacina Construction to design the facility.

[For more pictures of the ACT facility and other top-rated green buildings, see "The Look of LEED-Platinum."]

Geothermal systems generally are not the first choice for cooling a data center because they tend to reject heat and in doing so allow it to swiftly saturate the ground.

But project engineers designed a system that works for the ACT facility, the company said. The system is considered well suited for the location: With its heat loops buried underground, the system is shielded from the area's tornadoes and snowstorms.
Part of the ACT geothermal system. ”Courtesy
"Sustainability was the name of the game for this project, both environmental sustainable design and the ability of the data center to sustain a disaster ... none of the sustainable design strategies diminish the building's ability to perform its primary functions," ACT Assistant Vice President of Central Services Tom Struve said in a statement this week announcing the certification.

Other environmentally friendly attributes include a high performance HVAC system with pressure vessels that are isolated from the rest of the building and exterior dry coolers that are located in a protected courtyard. The equipment backs up the geothermal system and its design supports the security and reliability of the facility.

In addition to energy efficiency, the design provides improved indoor air quality with ventilation rates that are 30 percent greater than code requirement.

In construction of the operations center, building materials contained more than 30 percent recycled content; native prairie landscaping, which does not require watering, was restored on 90 percent of the site; and cork flooring, cotton-wall insulation, aspen fiber ceiling panels, agrifiber wood doors and other products made from renewable material were used in interior design.

Certification of ACT's facilities follows that of the world's first LEED-Platinum data center, Citi Group's data center in Frankfurt, Germany.

A third data center is in line for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design's highest rating:

The 230,000-square-foot Advanced Data Centers facility going up at McClellan Business Park, the former McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento, Calif., received LEED-Platinum pre-certification last summer. Consideration for final certification will begin when the project is complete, a spokesman said.

The ACT Data Center (top image) - Photo by Farshid Assassi, courtesy of Neumann Monson
Inside the ACT Data Center - Photo by Farshid Assassi, courtesy of Neumann Monson
Part of the ACT Geothermal System - Courtesy of KJWW Engineering Consultants