DPR repurposed an approximately 321,000-sq.-ft. facility with the first 12 MW of a total 36 MW infrastructure in just six months. Photo by Braxton Vinson

Build it Again, DPR: Reuse, Reclaim, and Re-Engineer Facility for QTS

Team Players

CUSTOMER: QTS owns, operates or manages 25 state-of-the-art data centers in Asia Pacific, Europe and North America and supports more than 1,000 customers. A leader in the infrastructure industry, QTS offers a unique portfolio of data center and infrastructure services.

ARCHITECT: Corgan Associates, Inc.

ENGINEER: kW Mission Critical Engineering

CHALLENGES:
  • Speed to market. The team shortened the capital investment timeline to a revenue-generating lease by nearly a third through hyper-efficient sourcing and just-in-time material management.
  • Maximum reuse. With an eye toward the maximum repurposing of existing assets, the team performed a comprehensive asset analysis for the true cost of ownership. Driving efficiency in the ratio of leasable space to infrastructure space reduced the overall basis of the long-term economics of the program by more than 10 percent.
  • Aggressive energy use goals. Application of indirect evaporative systems coupled with legacy chilled water systems helped drive PUE to be 13 percent better than original program goals.
  • Richmond team repurposes facility for modern tech use, transforming old semiconductor plant into new data center

    Nearly 20 years after first entering the Richmond, VA, market to build a semiconductor plant for Motorola and Siemens—a project that still ranks as one of the fastest-to-market facilities of its kind ever built—DPR is back at the same site.

    The current project? Repurposing and converting the former White Oak Semiconductor plant into a modern data center for Quality Technology Services (QTS).

    The project is tailor-made for DPR, a technical builder with expertise in an array of advanced tech markets, as well as for QTS, a diversified data center owner/operator with roots in the reclamation and salvage industries and a strong commitment to sustainability.

    DPR Project Executive Mike White, who is leading the QTS data center repurposing project, also managed the original $330-million White Oak Semiconductor project in the late 1990s. “I guess if you’re in the technical building industry long enough, you get to build great things twice,” he said.

    DPR came on board at the White Oak project in 1996—charged with delivering the 64-MB DRAM manufacturing campus in a record 12 months. The resulting facility produced one of the highest yield rates ever experienced in a new semiconductor production process.

    Over the years, however, the manufacturing plant became caught up in the trend of semiconductor manufacturing moving overseas. QTS purchased the infrastructure-rich White Oak campus and enlisted the help of DPR to repurpose the facility to support a cadre of modern-day, critical data center applications. QTS embraces the concept that creating repurposed “new economy” facilities from old is not only environmentally responsible, but also can be economically advantageous.

    REUSE INFRASTRUCTURE AND SYSTEMS

    DPR’s familiarity with the existing mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) infrastructure in the mothballed semiconductor facility, combined with the team’s vast data center knowledge, made them uniquely qualified to perform a comprehensive asset analysis, including identifying infrastructure reuse opportunities for the QTS data center project. While there are challenges associated with repurposing complex MEP systems, DPR had already repurposed several similar facilities into successful data centers. 

    Repurposed and sustainable features include:

    • Chilled water system reuse: The existing capacity was upgraded with new redundant control systems;
    • Power usage efficiency (PUE): The addition of energy-efficient, indirect evaporative cooling helped drive PUEs below 1.3—a 13-percent betterment over original program goals;
    • Existing envelope: DPR worked closely with the design team to develop upgraded skin treatments to achieve current energy-code requirements;
    • Recycling and reclamation: Working in close collaboration with the owner’s reclamation subcontractor, DPR maximized recycled content—diverting some 20,000 tons from the landfill.
    UNCOVERING ADDITIONAL USABLE SPACE

    DPR also uncovered additional usable space in one of the buildings that could be repurposed as leasable data center space. A third-floor network of air handlers for exhaust—required for the building’s former semiconductor life—was repurposed, given that the new, mostly uninhabited data center would use far less outside air. DPR, along with the design team of Corgan Associates, Inc. and kW Mission Critical Engineering, were able to reprogram that space, increasing the economic return on the building. “Finding extra space to lease with no added investment is a powerful differentiator in what we brought to this effort for our client,” White said.

    SPEED TO MARKET

    Speed of deployment was another differentiator. DPR repurposed an approximately 321,000-sq.-ft. facility with the first 12 megawatt (MW) of a total 36 MW infrastructure in just six months, coming online in July 2015. A combined strategy of hyper-efficient sourcing and just-in-time material management saved an estimated three months off a typical nine-month schedule for a project of this scope. Phase two is currently underway and expected to be completed in December 2015.

    Repurposing a facility that he helped build and deliver—both in 1996 and today—is a career highlight for White. “This may be one of the most rewarding projects of my career because of what we could share with the QTS team about the existing building infrastructure and being able to see this campus thrive again in today’s technology,” White concluded.

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