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IBM Opens Its Greenest Data Center in North America


Part of $350 Million Boulder Investment, Project Big Green Initiative

BOULDER, CO - Jun 2008: IBM (NYSE: IBM) officially opened its “greenest” data center in North America today at its Boulder, Colo., site. The 115,000-square-foot, energy efficient facility includes 70,000 square feet of raised floor space and is part of a $350 million investment by the corporation in Boulder to help meet customer demand worldwide for green data centers, while helping IBM and its clients reduce energy costs.

The new data center features numerous leading-edge technologies and services, including high density computing systems utilizing virtualization technology, along with energy efficient power and cooling technologies. These, in conjunction with the center’s energy efficient design and construction, will allow IBM to reduce its overall carbon footprint compared to standard data centers.

Today’s opening comes one year after IBM launched Project Big Green, committing $1 billion per year to deliver technologies that help customers increase the level of energy efficiency in their data centers. Since then, IBM has engaged with more than 2,000 clients as part of the project, delivering a variety of hardware, software and services technologies to help businesses reduce data center energy consumption and cut energy costs by more than 40 percent by certain measures.

With the 70,000-square-foot addition, IBM Boulder expands its hardened raised floor operations from approximately 225,000 square feet to nearly 300,000 square feet. It is IBM’s largest data center location worldwide.

“This new green data center reflects IBM’s leadership in finding innovative and environmentally responsible ways to meet our clients’ needs, as well as our own,” said Larry Longseth, IBM Colorado senior state executive and IBM Boulder senior location executive. “Boulder is one of the corporation’s premier data center locations, and it is strategically positioned to help IBM meet its commitment to maintain its data centers at the highest level of energy efficiency.”

To build the new data center, IBM retrofitted an existing office building on the Boulder campus. It reused 98 percent of the original building’s shell, recycled 65 percent of the materials from the original building, and 25 percent of newly purchased material came from recycled products.

The facility will be partially powered by alternative energy sources, including more than one million kilowatt hours per year of wind-powered electricity purchased by IBM. This will result in a planned reduction of approximately two million pounds of carbon dioxide produced per year.

Given Boulder’s geographic location and existing infrastructure reliability, the site is an optimal location to leverage energy efficiency. When exterior temperature and humidity levels are favorable, the new data center’s technology switches to free-cooling mode -- utilizing a water economizer to dramatically reduce energy consumption.

Variable-speed pumps and motors were also installed in the air conditioning systems to balance the cooling capacities to the actual load. This further reduces energy usage and costs, and water taps were installed throughout the facility, providing flexibility for water-cooled IT equipment -- like the IBM Power 6 technology -- as well as today’s air-cooled profiles. The center also uses low-sulfur fuels to reduce emissions from backup generators.

The facility’s mechanical system design is 40 percent more efficient than one without heat exchangers for free-cooling, equating to a reduction of approximately 6,550 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. Its capacity is expandable to meet future technology requirements.

With the strong focus on design and energy efficiency, Boulder qualified for training incentives from the state of Colorado, investment initiatives from the city of Boulder, and rebates from local provider Xcel Energy.

The expanded data center became fully operational and began boarding clients in May 2008.


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