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NEXTDC M2 Data Centre, Melbourne, Australia

Aurecon contributes design skills to NEXTDC’s industry-leading M2 data centre

Australia’s largest constructed Tier IV data centre, the NEXTDC M2 data centre in Melbourne, showcases the latest engineering and design innovations, surpassing industry standards for energy efficiency, performance, security and reliability.

NEXTDC had a mission to build Victoria’s largest and most resilient Tier IV certified data centre, offering unprecedented levels of power, security and connectivity, to service the increasing demand of its customers. Tier certification from the independent Uptime Institute is a globally accepted standard for the design and build of data centres and can be a reason why clients choose a particular data centre.

Aurecon’s extensive expertise in the latest technologies and systems commonly used in data centres was the reason NEXTDC chose the organisation as its design partner. The M2 data centre is an industry first in many respects as it showcases cutting-edge design and innovation, inside and out.

Close collaboration was the key

The design phase of the project included mechanical, electrical, fire protection, hydraulic, acoustics, communications, security, diesel fuel and structural design. Aurecon worked closely with NEXTDC’s engineering and operations teams, and other key project members including the project architect and civil engineer, to ensure that best-practice design was achieved so that the Uptime Institute Tier IV rating could be achieved. This collaboration was recently recognised at the Data Center Dynamics global awards, with NEXTDC and Aurecon being awarded Design Team of the Year.

In the same way that NEXTDC considers its Australian partner ecosystem as one large marketplace offering an unprecedented level of expertise to its customers, Aurecon supported NEXTDC’s needs through a similar ecosystem of design engineers and consultants. The deployment of an experienced working model promoted best-for-client outcomes for NEXTDC.

Achieving a top tier performance rating

As with all co-location data centres, redundancy and resilience of installed services is critical to a data centre’s performance. NEXTDC is a market leader in designing and operating world-class data centres, built to its own rigorous standards and independently proven through the Uptime Institute tier certification system. NEXTDC wanted the M2 data centre to be designed and constructed to achieve the Tier IV performance rating.

The rating for the design and phase 1 construction for the M2 data centre was achieved with Aurecon’s extensive understanding of how to design high-capacity data centre infrastructure. The same performance rating was achieved on NEXTDC’s B2 data centre in Brisbane, also designed by Aurecon.

Aurecon Technical Director, Bill Giannikos, said that the success of projects such as the M2 data centre required various complex engineering systems to work together as one and is underpinned by the people involved working as a collaborative team.

"Aurecon’s ability to build relationships with NEXTDC, the installing contractors, architects and other designers were the reason why we were able to fully understand the client’s requirements and appreciate their big picture for the project," Giannikos said.

Specialist design considerations

The M2 data centre is in Tullamarine, in Melbourne’s north, adjacent to a residential area. Aurecon designed the more than 20 outdoor generators and 50 outdoor mechanical air handling units to stringent acoustic restrictions and requirements in respect of the surrounding properties. 

Aurecon understood that it was essential for NEXTDC to be able to respond quickly to the needs of their clients for additional technical floor space and IT load without incurring huge, upfront capital costs. The speed of construction and modularity of design was therefore key, so the facility could be built in stages, and allow the IT load to grow according to the needs of NEXTDC’s customers.

Digital engineering helped the design process as the 3D modelling of all services, architecture and structure gave Aurecon an accurate and more thorough understanding of the building and services to better plan and sequence construction works.

Energy efficiency design that is unprecedented

The M2 data centre is the largest in Victoria. It was initially sized to 25 MW but during the project it was expanded to 40 MW of IT load (fully built) in response to the projected growth of NEXTDC.

To facilitate the high-energy usage, the electrical system uses high voltage switchgear and transformers on site. Aurecon applied its knowledge of power usage effectiveness (PUE) to meet the challenge of designing such a system to both seamlessly interface with the electricity grid and operate at a level of energy efficiency that is unprecedented in the data centre industry in Australia.

The benefit of modular and flexible design has provided NEXTDC with additional floor space to accommodate growing security and connectivity needs of their customers.

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