Annexation Boosts Cooling for NSA Data Center

The city of Bluffdale, Utah has agreed to annex more than 500 acres of land where the huge new National Security Agency data center will be built. The unusual move will help ensure that the facility will have access to water for its cooling systems in the event of an emergency.

Rich Miller

March 9, 2011

2 Min Read
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Here's an interesting story which illustrates the importance of cooling in where data centers are built. The city of Bluffdale, Utah has agreed to annex more than 500 acres of land where the huge new National Security Agency data center will be built.  The annexation of the unincorporated land is being made at the request of the Utah Military  Installation Developmental Authority, which is responsible for procuring the power, water and sewer capacity for the NSA project.

"MIDA asked that the property be annexed into Bluffdale so it could have a reliable water supply for cooling its computers," reports the Utah News. "If it were not part of the city, the center would be considered a 'surplus priority' customer of the city, meaning its water supply would be cut if there were a shortage."

A water interruption that limited cooling capacity could force a temporary shutdown of equipment in the the data center.  That type of interruption is unacceptable for the NSA facility. While officials won't say exactly what the facility will do, it is being described as mission-critical to the nation's cyber-security.

"The Data Center will be part of our expanding efforts to defend our Department of Defense computer systems from cyber attack, and will also play a key role in helping Homeland Security keep our government's civilian computer systems safe," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

$1.2 Billion Project

The National Security Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently broke ground on the $1.2 billion data center at Camp W.G. Williams National Guard Post. The massive, one million square-foot facility currently is the largest U.S. Department of Defense project in the nation.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a construction contract for $1.198 billion to a consortium led by DPR Construction and including Balfour Beatty US of Dallas and Big D Construction of Salt Lake City. The facility will sit on 240 acres of land, and span 1 millions quare feet, including about 100,000 square feet of data center space.

Construction has been broken into three phases, with the first phase resulting in a data center with a 30 megawatt technical load, and including modular structural components. The 2010 defense budget describes the project as “required to provide a 30MW technical load data center and infrastructure for 65MW technical load data center capacity.”

Plans call for the facility to meet TierIII reliability standards and target a silver rating under the LEED ( Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program, a voluntary rating system for energy efficient buildings overseen by the US Green Building Council.

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