IBM has received LEED Silver certification for its data center in Boulder, Colorado, the company said this week. The data center, a 70,000 square foot expansion of IBM's existing Boulder facility, opened last June and introduced as IBM's "greenest data center in North America." Perhaps not for long. IBM hopes to gain Gold LEED certification for its new data center in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina.
The LEED standard, short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a program for certifying energy efficient "green” buildings and is overseen by the U.S. Green Buildings Council (USGBC). With the certification, IBM's Boulder site joins a select number data centers to qualify for LEED status.
The Boulder facility is part of a $350 million, 125,000 square-foot corporate investment by IBM to expand the site’s hosting capacity from approximately 225,000 square feet to nearly 300,000m, making it IBM’s largest data center site worldwide.
A key practice in LEED certification is to recycle and reuse as much of the original structure as possible. Instead of demolishing the original office space, it was retrofitted and converted into the new facility. Sixty five percent of the material from the original building was recycled and 25 percent of newly purchased material came from recycled products.
The facility gets more than 1million kilowatt hours per year of wind-powered electricity. When outside temperature and humidity levels are favorable, the data center switches to free cooling mode, using a water-side economizer to reduce energy consumption. IBM uses variable-speed pumps and motors in the air conditioning systems balance cooling capacities to the actual load, further reducing energy usage and costs.