If you combine Brisbane’s ever-growing population with the public’s increasing need to be digitally connected 24/7, it’s no surprise that secure data storage is now more in demand than ever before. To continue to serve the people and businesses of Brisbane, and with no time to waste, data centre operator NEXTDC announced in 2016 that they would build a second data centre in the city; which became operational in late 2017.
From the start, NEXTDC had a bold vision: for this to be the first data centre in Australia to receive a Tier IV Certification of Constructed Facility; a citation recognising the highest level of data centre resilience from the Uptime Institute – the world’s leading independent data centre advisory and certification organisation.
To bring this ambitious endeavour to life, NEXTDC approached Aurecon to deliver all building services, structural engineering services, as well as surveying, acoustics and environmental services.
Finding a site to build a new data centre, in a highly populated CBD, and with adequate energy capacity was the first challenge to overcome.
NEXTDC was looking at several different potential locations in Brisbane and we were able to draw on the expertise of our energy team in Brisbane to recommend a preferred site. Using a map of all the major energy substations in Brisbane, Aurecon could quickly advise the client if a site had the capacity for a data centre facility.
Based on this advice, NEXTDC saved considerable time in confidently arriving at a site selection decision which involved converting an older office building into a high-density data centre.
The next extremely demanding task for Aurecon’s problem solvers was defining how the Tier IV design would take shape while making optimum use of a limited amount of space.
Spatially it was very tight, and we had to take an unconventional approach to established Tier IV design. A Tier IV Certified data centre normally contains dual plant systems: an active and redundant plant so if one plant breaks down, the remaining plant will automatically take over. Working in a tight space, we could not fit dual plants in the building and needed to find another way.
This monumental challenge included removing sections of low height basements, reinforcing low strength slabs with carbon fibre, and accommodating hundreds of tonnes of critical plant equipment on the roof.
Elegant design solutions included placing power systems at the heart of the building with central risers running from the roof. Cooling systems for the huge heat loads created an outer shell to the building with water storage in the basement, cooling plant on the roof, and cooling pipes running down the outside.
What seemed to be impossible for a Tier IV data centre, was made possible by using a thorough process of concept development and testing, calling on the expertise of Aurecon’s multiple engineering disciplines, architect Greenbox, and the client NEXTDC.
Working together in a workshop environment and employing the knowledge of the different teams’ expertise, we could creatively identify and test different concepts while ensuring these concepts would comply with Tier IV.
Through this process, the team found they could utilise a single redundant module design in a configuration that would meet the design requirements for Tier IV certification. Key to this was the design of critical plant equipment external to the building, which saved internal space and separated equipment modules for further fire protection.
As a result, in 2017, B2 Data Centre received Tier IV Certification of Constructed Facility (TCCF) from the Uptime Institute – the first Australian data centre and the first Asia Pacific colocation data centre to receive this certification.
Acting as Brisbane’s major hub for connectivity, B2 Data Centre now delivers access to the world’s largest computing platforms and enables organisations to connect on-demand to a host of cloud services. For the people and businesses of Brisbane, the Centre brings faster and more reliable connections to their data when they need it most.
Aurecon with NEXTDC won Design Team of the Year at the 2018 Datacentre Dynamic Global Awards for their work on next generation data centre design.