ACT Data Center Passes LEED Platinum Test

by | Aug 13, 2009

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act-leedIf there’s one thing the people at ACT know, it’s how to take a test. When it came to making the grade for a new data center, ACT, the national testing organization, became the first organization in the nation to have its data center certified to the platinum level of LEED by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Based in Iowa City, Iowa, ACT administers college-entrance tests to high school students.

The new data center was built to withstand natural disasters, including tornadoes. It has an energy-efficient geothermal system which ACT says is unique among data centers. Traditionally, geothermal power is not compatible with data centers, because of the heat generated and the need to keep the machines cool. In this application, the heat transfer loops are buried in the ground and the remainder of the equipment sets within the tornado resistant facility, according to a press release.

Because of its location, the cooling source is protected from 250 mph wind speed, projectiles and vandalism.

A separate energy efficient system incorporates dry coolers to add redundancy for the primary geothermal loop. In the winter, the dry cooler system will sometimes be more efficient than the ground-source system.

Here are some other facets of the operation:

  • Enhanced indoor air quality due to air quality control systems and increased ventilation rates that are more than 30 percent greater than code requirements
  • Reduced energy usage from high-performance HVAC systems
  • Recycled content in more than 30 percent of the total building materials
  • Restored native prairie landscaping on 90 percent of the site, requiring no irrigation
  • Renewable materials like cork flooring, cotton-wall insulation, aspen fiber ceiling panels, and agrifiber wood doors

Another building dedicated to education has undergone improvements designed to LEED standards.

A Higher Education Center in Medford, Ore., is being built to obtain LEED platinum, according to the Mail Tribune.

The building is adding a rooftop solar array, funded by $285,000 from the U.S. Department of Education from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2009, plus $92,000 in renewable energy tax credits from the Energy Trust of Oregon.

The panels will produce 55 kilowatts of energy (71,000 kilowatts a year) and reduce the building’s electricity bill by 10 percent, resulting in a savings, at 7.2 cents a kilowatt, or $5,170 a year, he said. The cost of the project is about $400,000, according to the article, meaning that it would take 77 years for the building to recoup the total costs paid by ACT and taxpayers, based on today’s electricity costs, if the panels or the building were to last that long.

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