Jun 25, 2021

Subzero Engineering: Sustainable solutions for data centres

atNorth
Subzero
3 min
Consultancy and customised containment - which complement the data centres they work with - is the global calling card of Subzero Engineering

Subzero Engineering recognises data centres are dynamic environments, so they have created customised containment solutions which make energy-efficient savings for their customers.

Subzero Engineering is the industry leader in bespoke containment solutions using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) to show measurable results for their customers which includes the following savings; $300 million in energy costs, 1.5 billion gallons of water, and three million tonnes in the reduction of carbon dioxide since 2015.

“We believe that a data-driven approach is essential to drive data centre performance and efficiency,” commented Andy Connor, Director EMEA Channel, who points out they offer CFD checks for free. 

“We help our customers do this with our customised, streamline, and energy efficient containment solutions which result in a lower total cost of ownership and reduced carbon emissions.”

Subzero Engineering has manufacturing facilities in Salt Lake City, US, where they were founded in 2005 (starting out as a data centre airflow consulting company), and in Dublin, Ireland.

“We have a large team of leading industry experts that help us operate globally, and at speed, and we work with customers ranging from the hyperscalers and colocation communities through to well-known brands and sports, retail, HPC, and AI,” said Connor.

Partnership with atNorth

Subzero Engineering has been working with atNorth, a high performance sustainable data centre in Iceland, for the past three years.

“When atNorth began the process of building their data centre halls they got in touch with us to provide the hot and cold aisle containment systems. Their facility is unique in its structure, so we moved from simply providing containment solutions to working with them consultatively to create a standardised ultra-efficient and performance focused system and something that could be repeated across multiple sites as their business grew.”

Climate neutral data centre pact

One of the drivers which is currently influencing data centre design is the fact hyperscalers and members of the colocation community have signed up to the climate neutral data centre pact. 

“New data centres are being designed for sustainable operations, but it needs to be more flexible to accommodate the needs of GPUs chip and processing power, so there's a real challenge to find that balance,” said Connor. “However, I think the real challenge in the market is the legacy facilities. These really need to be updated and modernised to become more efficient in order to reduce their OPEX, energy consumption, and CO2.”

Balance performance and efficiency

Connor says Subzero Engineering helps operators balance performance and efficiency. “We started life back in 2005 as a CFD consultancy when data centres were using raised floors and experiencing issues with leakages. Our software solution showed customers how they could analyse the infrastructure and improve efficiency.

“Fast forward 16 years and that approach has stayed with us. We're an engineering-led solutions provider who helps businesses reduce their carbon footprint and operating costs - but it all starts with the data we produce from our CFD reports,” he said.

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Aug 3, 2021

Future-tech and IXAfrica: Full Life Cycle Expertise

IX Africa
Future-tech
3 min
James Wilman, CEO of Future-tech, on working with IXAfrica on Kenya’s largest hyperscale data centre project.

Future-tech is unique among data centre consultancies for a number of reasons. Not only does the Reading-based firm have high levels of expertise in markets ranging from Helsinki to Johannesburg, but Future-tech offers services across the complete life cycle of a facility. 

 “We are involved with projects from the initiation to completion,” explains James Wilman, Future-tech’s CEO. “We go from initiation phase - which could mean the site selection process or technical due diligence for a merger or acquisition - all the way through establishing the brief, the various design stages, construction oversight, commissioning, operation, end of life cycle replenishment, and can start right back at the beginning with refurbishment.”  

While some factors, like the facility requirements for major tenants, remain the same no matter where you are, Wilman explains that “it's the environmental conditions, construction methodologies, supply chain, and skill sets available in different locations that vary, and that makes this a very interesting job.” 

Future-tech was selected by IXAfrica as the life cycle design strategic partner for its hyperscale campus project in Nairobi, Kenya. Wilman explains that, over the past year, Future-tech has been leveraging its strong local knowledge, working closely with Kenyan architects and engineers, and collaborating with both Guy Wilner and Clement Martineau, to help IXAfrica successfully deliver Kenya’s largest hyperscale data centre. 

“Future-tech did its first project on the African continent in 2012 in Kenya. I've been involved in the data centre space there for a long time, and have known Guy for a number of years through projects and interaction in Europe,” says Wilman. “As the IXAfrica project came into being, Guy and I spoke about it as he knew that we were already quite familiar with the area. We assisted out with the initial planning and project design, and the relationship really grew from there.” 

Wilman adds that the experience helping Future-tech support the IXAfrica project has been hard-won. “It's been a steep learning curve, figuring out how to work in Africa. Some of our earlier projects were quite challenging, but we're fortunate to be at a point now where working throughout the region feels really comfortable,” he explains. “One of the things about Nairobi - which we found out when we were working on our first project in the city back in 2012 - is that, because it's about 1,200 metres above sea level, the altitude actually de-rates the onsite equipment. Having your equipment perform less well because of the altitude can massively impact the whole facility.” Understanding the factors that define a local environment can be the difference between success and disaster for a data centre, and Future-tech’s extensive experience in Kenya is a key supporting factor for IXAfrica’s success in Nairobi. 

Wilman has also developed a strong collaborative relationship with Guy and Clement. “We've got over a gigawatt of design projects going through our office at the moment with different clients, which means that we're always learning new things. What is refreshing about working with Guy and Clement is that when we bring them a new idea, they listen to us,” says Wilman. “We've had a good run in Nairobi with IXAfrica built off of a long relationship, and I hope we get to continue working with them on their future projects.”  

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