design & facilities management To reduce water damage, leak detection sensors should be installed around the perimeter of the room approximately 3ft from the outer walls. twice over – and are predicted to reach 140 billion kilowatt-hours by 2020. Using outside ambient air instead of mechanical cooling, operators can significantly reduce their energy bills. Although cold climates offer natural cooling opportunities, there are trade-offs to locating data centres in cold weather regions. With average temperatures of -20˚C in winter, frost and snow can become a real hazard to air conditioning units, cooling towers and generators. For example, it is difficult to heat the air from the outside in extremely low temperatures, resulting in facilities operating outside of the recommended temperature ranges. 28 Outdoor equipment, such as drainage pipes, HVAC coils and fuel systems are also vulnerable. If HVAC units are not sealed correctly, they can easily allow snow to enter the facility, while frozen units can begin to leak water once the thaw begins. At the same time, external pipes and poorly insulated internal water lines can burst when exposed to sub-zero temperatures, leading to considerable damage and disruption. Ensuring reliable protection Although data centre outages can be unpredictable, there are certain precaution methods that can be taken by operators to minimise those risks. For example, to reduce water damage, leak detection sensors should be installed around the perimeter of the room approximately 3ft from the outer walls. If there is a raised floor, the sensor should be placed under it as liquids always seek the lowest point. Two types of sensors can be commonly found for water based leaks: spot and water snake cable based sensors. Spot sensors will trigger an alert when water reaches the unit. Water rope or water snake cable sensors use a conductive cable whereby contact at any point causes the alert. The latter is recommended due to its higher range and accuracy. For fuel based leaks, sensors need to be deployed around the generator pad, under day tanks, in double wall pipes or trenches connecting the supply to minimise risks. The product in place must be able to react to the presence of diesel in a few seconds and detect a puddle of fuel spreading across a flat surface, or a layer of diesel floating on water. For better efficiency, the sensor cable should monitor large amounts of piping with accuracy and consistent precision. For data centres in cold climates, a high performance frost protection system can be installed to prevent damage to the building and its contents. Self-regulating heat tracing cables can be easily mounted directly onto pipes, drains, gutters or around HVAC units and generators to protect from frost and ensure that a continuous drain path is maintained. They automatically adjust their heat output to the surrounding temperature for optimum energy efficiency and are highly resistant to extreme environments. In addition, advanced control systems ensure that the system is only operating when it freezes, further contributing to data centre energy saving initiatives.