University of Texas Data Center Renovation

BIM Project Award-Winning Project

The design-build team of DPR Construction and PageSoutherlandPage/Sunland Group converted this former central receiving building into a 26,000-sq.-ft. Tier 3 data center with 1.44MW of power. The facility includes 9,000 sq. ft. of 2' raised floor white space with another 17,000 sq. ft. of support, office and MEP equipment space.

The project design includes the use of UPS flywheels in lieu of the more typical static batteries. The UPS flywheels have several advantages for this project: they use about 30% less space than static batteries, are not potential explosion hazards, don't require special room ventilation, and have a life span of approximately 20 years. In emergency situations they provide 14 seconds of load at 100%, which is more than enough time for emergency generators to reach full capacity.

In lieu of the split DX units that were planned for the roof, the team recommended using Water-Cooled Chillers and a Cooling Tower. DX units are less expensive to install, but much more expensive to run. Using life cycle energy analysis tools with the BIM, the team determined that although the Water-Cooled Chillers were more expensive to install, over a 15-year period the University would save upwards of $16 million in energy and maintenance costs.

The ceiling in the data center white space was lower than in a typical data center, and did not have the load capacity to support the data cable trays. The team designed the load from the cable trays to be supported from the raised access flooring below. Rather than hanging from the ceiling, the trays are supported from below via poles at the base of the server cabinet.

The cable tray support system was designed electronically in BIM, and run through clash detection software during design. The team was able to see exactly how much space was available for cabling, and make adjustments where needed. In some instances, the design left as little as ½” clearance. Having the entire design and construction team involved in the clash detection, accurate changes could be made in the drawings rather than the field when changes are more costly to implement.

To help expedite the schedule, an early release package for abatement was developed for the portion of the building that was unoccupied prior to the project starting. When the building was vacated, DPR was able to move quickly and could focus on the white space, demarcs and electrical room demo and build-back.

Technical Details

  • Tier Level: Tier III
  • Structure: Precast concrete
  • Raised Floor: 9,000 sq. ft.
  • Critical Load: 1.44 MW
  • Watts/square foot: 150/sq. ft.
  • Hot aisle/cold aisle containment
  • Rotary Flywheel Uninterruptible Power System (UPS): 2N
  • Chilled Water System: N+1 system for cooling of white space and UPS rooms

BIM Features

  • MEP Design
  • Clash Detection

Award

  • Silver Step Award for Safety Excellence
    University of Texas

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