Insight and analysis on the data center space from industry thought leaders.

A Data Center Build: Breaking Ground

With permits starting to be issued, contractors in place, state and local government on board, and schedules starting to really crystallize, it’s time to break ground, writes Shawn Mills of Greenhouse Data.

Industry Perspectives

September 25, 2013

2 Min Read
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Shawn Mills is a technology entrepreneur, founding member and president of Green House Data. You can find him on Twitter at @tshawnmills.



Greenhouse Data

Finally, with permits starting to be issued, contractors in place, state and local government on board, and schedules starting to really crystallize, it’s time to break ground.

Make it a Community Event

Because we saw our groundbreaking as symbolic instead of a just construction milestone, we wanted to invite the local community and build a networking event around it. We worked with the Wyoming Business Council and Cheyenne LEADS, two economic development agencies, to improve our reach, and also kept it open to the public.

Data centers can have significant impacts from large building footprints to infrastructure improvements that can benefit everyone. For example, Green House Data recently installed a 100 Gbps circuit, and it’s the first of its kind in Wyoming, which means fiber upgrades statewide.

This was also a great time to pull together many of the contributors to this project. We set up a tent so guests would have some shade and feel welcome to stay for a while, and we offered tours of our existing data center.

Brand It

We also approached breaking ground as a branding opportunity, getting custom hard-hats and painting shovels in our colors. A happy side note was that was something employees got excited about—and generating enthusiasm is exactly what we wanted to do.

Guest List

The more dignitaries, and this includes partners, you can confirm, the easier it will be to get media coverage and also generally drive attendance. We invited elected officials like Wyoming Governor Matt Mead to attend as a VIP guest and to speak. We were pleasantly surprised when the governor’s office arrived with a youth delegation that was spending the day with him.


There are some details that are easy to overlook that make ground breaking events run more smoothly. For example, we "pre-tilled" a stretch of ground so that it would not be awkward to dig in. We also kept our ceremony mostly in our nearby parking lot instead of in the grass at our new build site because our Network Operations Center (NOC) staff had spotted some snakes. Finally, make sure someone is designated to take pictures so you can share the ceremony with people who were unable to make it:

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