Insiders Offer Keys to Efficient Data Center Builds: Trusted, Repeatable Processes & Establishing Buy-in with Communities

DENVER, CO — CAPRE’s recent Construction, Design, Engineering Evolution and the Optimization of Hyperscale, Colocation & Enterprise Data Centers Summit in Denver kicked off with a panel that waded into one of the most seminal questions in the data center space: What are real and fake timeframes to delivering new product? Moderator Hector Diaz, Sr. Partner for iDiaz Advisors wasted no time diving head-first into “The Speed of New Construction and New Models.”

I’d like to turn to my fellow panelists and ask them to tell us a little bit about their recent experience with either data center builds,” began Diaz. “Or if you’re with a real estate company, what happens before the data center is built, and what kind of things will you be helping your customer base figure out, so that they can get commissioned faster?”

Greg Vernon, Senior Vice President for CBRE was the first panelist to have a go at this question. “The obvious answer there, as to what a data center company or an enterprise needs to go through, is figuring out how long the permitting is going to take, how difficult is that process going to be,” he began. “And what we’ve found a lot of success with is working with the local economic development groups, whether that be the city, county or state, and working with them to buy into the value of that data center project to their location.”

Greg Vernon, Senior Vice President, CBRE

According to Vernon, this is so key because such groups have a lot of pull with city planners, to make sure that that process goes a little bit smoother. “There are obviously a lot of different permits that need to be pulled within the data center [construction] process, and the speed that process goes is critical to the delivery of the data center and putting that shell in the ground,” he explained. “Working with the local government offices in that process is absolutely key. If you don’t do it, there certainly are going to be delays that will happen. and if you can’t expedite through those processes, it will become pretty difficult.”

Next, Tom Dobson, Vice President for Holder Construction Company chimed in to talk about the importance of consistency. “I just want to add…that whether it’s pre-fab or whether it’s stick-build, the same equations tend to apply,” he asserted. “The [recent] CyrusOne [data center project in Northern Virginia] is an excellent example. Equipment is generally going to determine the schedule. If you can determine when equipment is going to land on the job site, you can figure out, by moving it back or moving forward or whatever, when you can be done. CyrusOne has that equipment ready to go in a warehouse before you are [ready go to]….they were really fast in Northern Virginia, because they had access to the equipment. If the equipment is ready to go, you can pour on the work and be ready to go pretty quickly.”

“The trick there is that the equipment was in storage,” stressed Dobson. ” They already had spec’d the right equipment, they knew exactly the accessories they wanted on it, they’d buy the same thing over and over and over, and they repeat the people and the process. [Delays] were minimized. If you want to go fast, the key is having a trusted, reliable design approach that you can repeat. Keep the same team members involved, keep the program going, and focus everybody on your key metric – whether that’s dollars per megawatt or whether that’s the schedule or whatever makes your business and pro forma work. Focus those incredibly intelligent team members on that same goal, and you’ll get what you want.”

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