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Portugal Telecom's High-Concept Green Data Center

Portugal Telecom's High-Concept Green Data Center

Portugal Telcom recently unveiled an ambitious new data center project that seeks to combine progressive architecture, sustainability and the latest in IT technology. The $120 million complex opened with 37 customers, and is expected to eventually span 800,000 square feet.


A rainfall storage feature at the new Portugal Telecom data center in Covilha creates a moat around the tower that houses the data halls. (Photo: Portugal Telecom)

In a plain that unfurls beneath Portugal's largest mountains, about 185 miles north of Lisbon, Portugal Telecom (PT) has set out to do something different. The town of Covilha is home to an ambitious new data center project that seeks to combine progressive architecture, sustainability and the latest in information technology.

The $120 million (90 million Euro) data center, which opened in September, houses six data halls that each offer 56,000 square feet (520 square meters) of technical space designed to operate at a power usage effectiveness (PUE) of 1.25. The entire project, once complete, will feature four block-like data center structures spanning 75,500 square meters - about 800,000 square feet.

The PT facility is built to be sustainable, featuring a rain water collection system (which forms a moat around the data center building), an on-site photovoltaic solar power generation, and a garden with more than 600 trees. Portugal Telecom is seeking Gold LEED certification for the data center building, and LEED Platinum status for the attached office building.

Covilhã was chosen for the location because it’s the coldest place in Portugal, with a climate that will allow PT to use fresh air cooling for 99 percent of the year, with chillers expected to be used four days a year.

Making A Statement

"When we designed the Covilhã data centre, we wanted to make sure that sustainability was engrained into the building from the very beginning," said Zeinal Bava, CEO of Portugal Telecom. "This didn’t just mean having efficient hardware, it meant the whole infrastructure had to come together in a way that showed our customers that we are as serious about the efficiency as they are. Covilhã makes a definitive statement in that regard.”

But there's serious business happening within the three-story data center structure. PT opened the facility with 37 launch day clients, including IT services and outsourcing giants Accenture and Wipro and three major banks. PT is offering a full suite of cloud and data services, with solutions that include Software as a Service (SaaS), Collaboration as a service (CaaS), Platform as a service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

"Within cloud computing there’s intense competition and so as well as our expertise in connectivity and communication we must also compete on sustainability," said Bava. "The steps we have taken to be greener than our competitors also enable us to be 34 percent better priced than the average price for premium data centres in Europe. We have gone out of our way to ensure that we have used leading edge technology but even more important is the way that technology was put together.”

This video provides an overview of the Covilha project, its sustainability features, design and technology. This video runs about 2 minutes.

Next: A Closer Look at the PT Data Center


A cloud formation skirts the tops of the mountains in Covilha, Portugal, providing a dramatic backdrop for the new Portugal Telecom data center - the large block-like structure. Covilha is the coolest place in Portugal, allowing PT to use fresh air cooling for all but four days a year. (Photo: Portugal Telecom)


The office building at the PT Covilha facility is brilliantly lit in this evening photo. The office component of the project is seeking LEED Platinum certification. (Photo: Portugal Telecom).


Inside the data halls, Portugal Telecom has capacity for 56,000 servers. The facility opened with 37 customers, including Accenture, Wipro and three large banks. (Photo: Portugal Telecom)


The PT data center is fully powered by energy from renewable sources, and includes 1,610 photovoltaic panels that provide 30 percent of the power in the office areas within the complex. (Photo: Portugal Telecom)

TAGS: Energy
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