Building Community along with Facebook Open Compute Data Center Projects
Although more than 2,200 miles separate the jobsites in Prineville, OR, and Forest City, NC, where DPR—along with joint venture partner Fortis Construction—is building major new data centers for Facebook, a common goal connects the two project teams. In both cases, they are working to not only build some of the world’s most efficient data centers but also build up the communities in which the projects are located.
Customer: Founded in February 2004, Facebook is a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. The company develops technologies that facilitate the sharing of information through the social graph, the digital mapping of people’s real-world social connections. Anyone can sign up for Facebook and interact with the people they know in a trusted environment.
Architect: Sheehan Partners
In Prineville, Crook County, OR, the DPR-Fortis team is currently underway on the second phase of a 340,000-sq.-ft., greenfield, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for New Construction (LEED®-NC) Gold-registered mission critical facility that includes four 40,700-sq.-ft. data center halls. DPR-Fortis completed the first phase in December 2010, while Phase 2 is slated for a December 2011 completion.
In Forest City, Rutherford County, NC, DPR is again working with Fortis to build a two-phase, 370,000-plus-sq.-ft., greenfield mission critical facility, targeting LEED-NC Gold certification, slated for October completion. This project comprises a ground-up, one-story facility with a 125,000-sq.-ft. mechanical penthouse and the construction of four data center halls.
On both projects, teams have sponsored a host of programs and activities that benefit surrounding communities. A cornerstone has been to promote local hiring wherever possible to support local economies.
For the Prineville project, situated in a relatively remote area in central Oregon, DPR-Fortis has averaged between 50-60 percent local hires with approximately 250 craft persons per month. For the Forest City project, in addition to 55 percent local hires, they are supporting a construction program at Isothermal Community College that trains students to work specifically on the Facebook data center. To date, more than 30 students have been through the program and are working as part of the DPR self-perform team, joining more than 400 craftspeople on site.
In addition, teams have undertaken community outreach activities that support local junior high and high schools, senior citizens, food banks and many other needs.
“There’s nothing faceless about Facebook when it comes to building goodwill in the community,” said DPR Project Executive Andy Andres. “It’s great to see an owner so passionate about giving back and encouraging others to ‘pay it forward,’ contributing in a positive way.”
Open Compute Data Center Construction
While the community service aspects have been remarkable, the projects have also gained widespread attention for their design, high degree of energy efficiency, and the fact that Facebook has been willing to share the design and construction details for the benefit of others.
Both data centers are using new technology infrastructure, including custom-built servers, racks and in-row DC Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) units to create highly energy-efficient centers that reflect the owner’s environmentally friendly vision. Designed by Jay Park of Facebook, in collaboration with AlfaTech and Sheehan Partners, both facilities feature a ductless evaporative cooling/humidification system in lieu of the usual chilled water and condenser water system, enabling the data halls to be cooled at a much lower cost and to consume much less energy than a traditional chilled water system.
“This is one of the most energy-efficient data centers in the world,” said Andres. Along with design innovation, another unique element has been the speed with which both projects are being constructed. Phase 2 of the Prineville project has a 12-month construction schedule, while the North Carolina project team is challenged with a mere 10-month schedule, according to Andres.
“We took a lot of time on the front end to hone the design and get the big procurement items out of the way early. Through early collaboration with Facebook, AlfaTech, Sheehan Partners, McGill Associates and the County of Rutherford, NC, we were able to start this project two hours after the groundbreaking. Our key subcontractors in North Carolina have also been incredibly great partners,” he added. The projects have featured a high degree of collaboration from all team members in both the construction and the commissioning processes.
It is perhaps not surprising that Facebook, the social networking company that has revolutionized the manner and the degree to which people interact and communicate in the 21st century, has demonstrated its willingness to carry its innovative approach over to its facility design and construction. This past April, Facebook launched the “Open Compute Project,” an initiative that has the company releasing the details including design and specifications of its Prineville data center, as well as its custom designs for servers, power supplies and UPS units.
For the normally secretive world of data center design, the Open Compute Project is a bold departure from existing industry practice. For Facebook, however, the public disclosure about the infrastructure and design of its data center facilities represents part of its global focus on creating a network of suppliers who can supply equipment and technology to Facebook and other web companies for their data centers of the future. And after all, for Facebook and other progressive companies like it, perpetuating the constant flow of information and?knowledge is simply the way business is done today.