Can a data center heat your home or office? It can in London, where excess heat from servers at the new Telehouse West data center in the Docklands will soon be used in nearby houses and businesses. The Greater London Authority has approved a plan in which waste heat from the $180 million Telehouse colocation facility will be used in a district heat network for the local Docklands community.
The project is expected to produce up to nine megawatts of power for the local community, and allow the 130,000 square foot Telehouse West to reduce its carbon footprint by 1,110 tons. "The energy savings will equate to boiling 3,000 kettles continuously," the company said.
Telehouse Europe's expansion of its Docklands facility is the first major data centre to gain planning permission in London since the city passed stringent sustainability requirements. Telehouse said the project's approval was enabled by green innovations developed with WSP Group, a London-based international sustainability and engineering consultancy. This will be the first time a data center heat export strategy has been introduced in the UK.
The Telehouse project is the most ambitious effort yet to reuse the excess heat from data centers. IBM has designed a data center in Switzerland that that uses waste heat to warm a nearby community swimming pool. Researchers from Notre Dame University placed a rack of high-performance computing nodes at a local municipal greenhouse, the South Bend Greenhouse and Botanical Garden, to help heat the flowers and plants in the facility
Bob Harris, Technical Services Director of Telehouse Europe, said the reuse of waste heat allows the facility to be a responsible neighbor, while helping the company meet a serious shortage of quality data center space in the London market. "We recognize that any attempt to address the lack of space within the data centre industry has to be undertaken with a level of environmental awareness," Harris said. " By making good use of the waste heat from the facility, we can minimise the environmental impact of Telehouse West and provide a valuable resource to the local community."
Telehouse has two existing data centers in the Docklands, with 300,000 square feet of data centre space housing more than 700 telecoms and colocation service providers. Telehouse West is part of a global expansion of Telehouse facilities to meet surging demand for data center space from its clients in the financial and telecom industries. Telehouse will invest in an additional 160,000 square feet of new facilities near Paris and open a new 16,000 square foot data center in Singapore, a new market for the company. Telehouse recently opened a datacenter in Beijing, China and already operates three facilities in the New York area, and one apiece in Los Angeles and Hong Kong.
“Our team has worked on a solution which integrates various aspects of the new building to reduce its environmental impact considerably," said Martyn Bishop, Senior Technical Director at WSP Buildings. "It demonstrates that taking a holistic view pays dividends.”
In 2002 city officials formed a London Sustainable Development Commission designed to make London an "exemplary sustainable world city" that combines economic growth, improved environmental management, and "social inclusivity to allow all Londoners to share in London's future success." The London Plan includes a provision on sustainable energy that Telehouse had to contend with to gain approval.
"The Mayor recognized that the Telehouse proposal has the potential to mitigate the proposed development's contribution to the urban heat island effect and provide impetus for a district heat network in the area," said Kieran Rushe of Planning Consultants Dalton Warner Davis. "The GLA (Greater London Authority) said that the agreed solution represents the best possible outcome within the specific constraints of the scheme and accords with the objectives of London Plan policy 4A.6.”
Telehouse West is scheduled to be completed in 2010.