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Testing Options for Data Center Seismic Compliance

By Rita Tatum   Data Centers

OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Seismic Readiness an Important Issue for Data CentersPt. 2: This Page

When a manufacturer desires seismic compliance testing, he or she can approach ICC-ES or go directly to an independent testing laboratory. The manufacturer pays for the testing and any mathematical modeling required for the nonstructural components. ICC-ES then reviews the results against its requirements and acceptance criteria.

"If we have any questions, we inform the manufacturer and ask them to respond with more information," says Gerber. A manufacturer of systems that were recently seismically certified would be able to report that the systems endured a series of shake tests by a qualifying agency that proved the systems remained online and functional, immediately following the tests. Of course, in the real world, the alarms and emergency communication components would also have to follow requirements for attachment to the building.

Emergency power systems often consist of a base, engine, alternator, fuel tank, transfer switch, controls, and engine cooling and ventilation systems. All crucial elements need to survive both ground movement and the oscillations it generates so that power is available for emergency lighting, elevators, ventilating systems, communication systems, alarms, fire pumps and so on. An open generator set and its engines that pass seismic certification may declare so on a label with the applicable building codes against which it was tested and analyzed. Seismic loading, certifying agency and the report number also are generally included on the label, as well as the specific version of IBC used.

If emergency power systems continue to operate, they also help data centers by allowing the preservation of computer data to reduce financial risk and ensure business continuity during the actual quake and its aftershocks. So it's not surprising that data center operators are looking for AC-156 compliance for nonstructural components.

Data centers also have economic reasons to apply seismic compliance to nonstructural components, and many are doing so. That's because the loss of functionality during an earthquake could seriously compromise today's business, which counts on data centers being up and running 24/7, quake or shine.

Rita Tatum, a contributing editor for Building Operating Management, has more than 30 years of experience covering facility design and technology.

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  posted on 2/17/2012   Article Use Policy

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