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Data Center Construction Costs Down, Study Finds
On average, it costs less today to construct a new data center than it did in late 2007, according to a recent study by Environmental Systems Design (ESD).
In today's economy, owners are likely to find significant savings on labor, data center equipment and building materials, and transportation of building materials and equipment.
Most notably, the study finds that the prices of feeder and cable have dropped by more than half; major data center equipment by 12 percent; labor and materials overall by 19.6 percent, and shipping and handling by 15 percent from the fourth quarter of 2007 to July 15, 2009.
The study compared live project estimates, using as a baseline contractor bids for a 60,000-square-foot greenfield data center comprising 20,000 square feet of raised access floor area at 150 watts per square foot and 10,000 square feet of office space, with the following criteria for uptime and redundancy: Uptime Tier III for most components; 2N infrastructure for concurrently maintainable operation; dual utility; N+1 generator installation; 2N centrifugal chiller system; and a standard CRAC unit installation.
During the study period, ESD observed significant reductions in the costs of copper cabling (55 percent); feeder, both overall (55 percent) and for copper (48 percent); copper-based utility transformers (19 percent); and steel joists (18 percent).
In contrast, ESD found that the price of UPS systems, HVAC equipment (i.e., CRAC units and chillers), pre-case tilt-up concrete building systems are stable; and the market for medium-voltage switchgear remains competitive, although prices have slightly dropped (4 percent).
Similarly, the study showed that that prices of other equipment have remained stable, while delivery schedules have significantly changed for better or worse. For example, the price of batteries fell slightly (3 percent), but delivery schedules remain long. The price of generators has fallen only moderately (8 to 12 percent), but delivery schedules are significantly shorter (40 percent).
The estimates are based on historical data, which are continuously updated based on actual bids on data center infrastructure equipment. In addition, the company considers geographical markets for construction materials and labor using figures form RS Means and other industry benchmarks.