Renewable Energy to be the Future Power Source for Corporate Data Centers

Mortenson data centre renewable energy survey
Eighty-four percent of respondents feel there is a need to consider renewable forms of energy, such as wind and solar, to manage future needs, according to the survey

is among the top emerging technologies being considered by owners to help address power and cooling costs, according to a Mortenson survey of corporate data center executives, data center developers and operators, and information technology providers at the 2014 Data Center World conference.  

Eighty-four percent of respondents feel there is a need to consider renewable forms of energy, such as wind and solar, to manage future needs, according to the survey.

Energy is by far the biggest cost for data centers, making power and cooling considerations the most important drivers in determining location, design and construction of facilities. In fact, the top thing data center operators say they would most like to change about their facilities is greater energy efficiency. Nearly half of survey participants also believe a better Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) rating is achievable through improved technologies.

“Worldwide data usage continues to grow, which requires more infrastructure and power to support it, so it’s vital that we leverage innovation to help balance energy demand and supply,” said Scott Ganske, director of operations for Mortenson’s Mission Critical Group.

There are a number of promising technologies that will drive energy efficiency forward in the next few years; and renewable energy increasingly makes economic as well as environmental sense for the energy supply chain. With costs dropping and operating efficiency rising, we believe renewables are rightly attracting interest from data center operators.

Costs for producing wind have decreased 58% and solar power by 40% in the past five years and they continue to fall, making renewables more cost-competitive with traditional fuel sources in many markets. At the same time, availability is steadily improving. Wind farms, for example, generate power 50% of the time now, up from 35% in 2007. In fact, several leading technology firms in the U.S. are already investing in power purchase agreements (PPA) with wind energy producers to lock-in energy costs over the long term.  Mortenson has built several of the wind farms, located in Illinois, Iowa and Texas, that are a part of those PPA deals.

The Mortenson survey also covers such issues as:

  • current and future use of Data Center Information Management (DCIM)
  • leasing vs. owning facilities
  • growth expectations
  • LEED trends

Mortenson is one of the leading data center contractors in the U.S., ranked fifth by Engineering News-Record, and has built more than 16 million square feet of mission critical work for customers.  The company is also ranked as the top builder of wind power facilities inNorth America and is a leading solar power contractor.

About Mortenson Construction

Founded in 1954, Mortenson is a U.S.-based, family-owned construction and development services company. As one of the nation’s top builders, Mortenson provides a complete range of construction services, including planning, program management, preconstruction, general contracting, construction management, and design-build.  The company also is a leader in real estate development; developing all asset types.

Mortenson has offices in Chicago, Denver, Iowa City, Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Portland, San Antonio, Seattle and Toronto.  For more information, visit

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  • What’s Happening

    Showcasing Solar Power at Sky Harbor
    On February 22, local leaders gathered on the roof of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport’s Rental Car Center to dedicate a 5.4 megawatt high efficiency solar power system – the largest rooftop solar project in the state of Arizona. With the sun shining and clear blue skies, it couldn’t be a better day to unveil the new solar power system that not only will generate electricity and save money, but also shows the city of Phoenix’s commitment to sustainability and reducing the environmental footprint.
    “The city of Phoenix has a full commitment to sustainability,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “Sky Harbor Airport is reinforcing its commitment to energy conservation and improving air quality in Arizona, while saving airport funds.”
    In fact, with 12,000 solar panels designed and built by SunPower Corp. on top of the Rental Car Center and nearly 4,000 also installed on top of the East Economy Garages, this project is expected to generate approximately 51 percent of the electricity demand at the Airport’s Rental Car Center, East Economy Parking Garages and toll plaza. In addition to saving energy, this will save $4.7 million dollars over the next 20 years.
    “Reducing energy use through greener construction and energy efficient facilities are high priorities for the city of Phoenix and Sky Harbor,” Aviation Director Danny Murphy said.
    Reducing the environmental footprint is also a key benefit of this project. In fact, the solar project will offset the production of carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to removing nearly 1,000 cars per year off the roadways or providing electricity to nearly 700 homes a year.
    The project is the result of a great partnership between the public and private sector. The Mayor and City Council provided the leadership and worked together with the Aviation Department and other organizations like SunPower Corp. and APS to complete this project. Councilman Bill Gates was recognized for his efforts as Chair of the Finance, Efficiency, Innovation and Sustainability Subcommittee and ensuring that the pledge to implement energy efficiency and sustainable practices into the city was accomplished.
    “This is a true commitment to solar energy, and the project has been a long-time coming,” said Gates. “It is a result of our partnership. We thank SunPower for their great work, APS and the FAA.”
    Both Mayor Stanton and APS Director of Energy Innovation Barbara Lockwood also highlighted the fact that this project not only saves energy and money, but it also showcases Phoenix’s sustainability efforts to the world.
    “It is really exciting to know that when people from around the world fly in, one of the first things they will see is solar panels and our commitment to sustainability,” said Lockwood.
    Mayor Stanton, Councilman Gates, Councilman Daniel Valenzuela, Murphy, Lockwood and Rick Whisman, Region Systems Sales Director with SunPower then gathered to flip the ceremonial switch to dedicate this project which really shows what partnership and working together can do to benefit the community.
    “This is a great beginning and there is lots more to come,” Stanton said.
    The solar panel project is only one example of Phoenix Sky Harbor’s commitment to the environment. Sky Harbor already uses alternative fuels in Airport vehicles and buses; has a robust recycling program; and participates in power efficiency measures within the terminals and Airport buildings. The PHX Sky Train™ project has also embraced environmental-friendly measures by implementing irrigation and energy efficiencies and by being a LEED certified project. Find out more about Sky Harbor’s commitment to being green.
    Above and to the right, see Councilman Bill Gates (left) and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (right) at the dedication.
    See pictures from the event as well as more photos of the solar panels on our Facebook and Google + pages.
    Updated: February 28, 2012
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