the newsletter of tbd consultants - 1st qtr 2018

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In this Edition

Data Centers
Pricing International Projects
Construction Prospects in the US & Europe

Construction Management Specialists

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Data Centers

Sometimes we seem to be drowning in data these days, but we still have an insatiable thirst for more. And we want access to it instantly. It is no wonder that data center construction is booming.

Whether you want to look up a recipe for the party you are planning, want to find out what is gaining potential customers’ interests so you can market your new product successfully, or simply want to keep up with the latest developments of science or politics, it is the mountain of information residing in public and private data centers that you go to first.

Data centers can range from a collection of servers in a backroom serving the needs of a particular company, to massive buildings housing aisles filled to the roof with servers. These large data centers may be colocation centers serving the needs of multiple companies, or the data centers of major players in the Internet superstructure serving up webpages and Web services to industry and the public.

The Internet can be accessed at the speed of light from anywhere in the world, so these large data centers have traditionally been built in out-of-the-way places, where they can still have access to a reliable power source (often a renewable source such as hydroelectric) and trained or trainable staff. Often these locations have been in colder climates, so that the cooling needs of the myriad servers and other electrical equipment can be met cheaply.

But sometimes the speed of light can seem too slow, when the information is coming from part way around the globe. It is not just the vanishing attention span of people that is driving the need for faster data access, but the increase in automation and the Internet of Things. Take the advent of autonomous vehicles as an example. For these vehicles to keep us safe on the roads, especially while there are still erratic human drivers around as well, they need instant access to road and traffic conditions which may be being received over a wireless link from remote sources, not just from inbuilt sensors. A fraction of a second delay could prove fatal.

To overcome this delay, there is a move to bring data centers closer to the large centers of population, but the 'big warehouse' image doesn’t work too well there. Consequently, we have been seeing more interesting architectural design being incorporated, although the large adaptable space inside still needs to be achieved. The excess heat needs to be disposed of, and innovative uses for it, to serve the surrounding area are being devised. Incorporating data centers into other developments that make use of the excess heat and other resources is one solution, but maintaining the security of the data center can become more of an issue.

Data centers have to abide by all the normal building codes, and would often want to exceed them as they are treated effectively as essential buildings. There are also specific ratings applicable to data centers, relating to things like fault tolerance and reliability of service. Also, the large corporations that own these data centers normally feel a need to demonstrate that they are being good neighbors, so green-building standards, such as LEED, also come into play.

Innovations in data storage technology may reduce space requirements over time, but the increasing volume of storage may compensate. But the constant change in the data industry will ensure that work on new data centers and adaptations and alterations to existing ones will remain a rich source for construction professionals for some time.


Pricing International Projects

Here we look at the resources and techniques for estimating construction costs in 'far away places with strange sounding names'.


Construction Prospects in the US & Europe

In this articles we look at the similarities and the differences in the construction markets in the Unites States and in Europe, and how market forces are affecting them.



Design consultant: Katie Levine of Vallance, Inc.