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CONSTRUCTION KNOWLEDGE BLOG

March 21, 2012

Great Green Design: With a Touch of Grey and Brown
Filed under: Cool Projects,HVAC — Tags: — nedpelger

Green (or sustainable) design too often comes from checklists instead of logic. Some of the Green design makes no economic sense and little technical sense, raising costs and offering scant benefits. I hate that kind of “Bragging Rights” Green design.

So when I encounter some great Green design, I like to make the contrast. Google has a 990,000 sf data center near Atlanta, GA that needs a huge amount of cooling. Rather than relying on all chillers (with their high electrical energy use), Google went with more evaporative cooling (think cooling towers). While this design saves substantial electricity, the water use is huge.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJnlgM1yEU0&feature=player_embedded

Rather than continuing to use millions of gallons of potable water, Google partnered with the nearby wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). The outflow from the treatment plant (which was treated, but you wouldn’t really want to drink a glass) now goes to a Google treatment plant that further sterilizes, filters and chlorinates. The¬†non-potable¬†water then flows into the evaporative cooling system and most turns into mist, carrying huge amounts of heat off into the atmosphere at a low cost. The bit of excess water that does now go into the Chattahoochee River has been cleaned to a level much higher than regulatory standards.

To summarize, electricity gets saved, potable water use goes way down and the non-potable water that enters the river is substantially cleaner. Now that’s great sustainable design. The fact that 30% of the WWTP outflow goes into the Google Data Center cooling water system shows the scale of the operation.

Watch at least a short bit of this video, just to see what a Google mechanical room looks like. All those painted pipes make me happy.

Hat tip to Kneal for shooting me this news. I can always count on you for the straight poop on grey water and brown technology. I suppose having kids in diapers makes you an expert.