Data center costs drop by double digits

October 01, 2009 |
The average cost of major data center equipment has dropped by 12% since late 2007, according to a study by Environmental Systems Design. Materials, labor, and shipping costs have also plummeted.

The current economic crisis has an upside for owners of mission-critical facilities: on average, it costs less today to construct a new data center than it did in late 2007, according to a study by Environmental Systems Design (ESD), a Chicago-based MEP, fire, and green building engineering firm.

ESD says building owners are likely to find significant savings on labor, data center equipment, building materials, and transportation of building materials and equipment. Most notably, the study found that the prices of feeder and cable have dropped by more than half, major data center equipment by 12%, labor and materials by 19.6%, and shipping and handling by 15% from the fourth quarter of 2007 to July 2009.

“Our analysis shows that for any company anticipating the need to build or expand a data center there is currently a window of opportunity to realize considerable savings,” said Raj Gupta, president and CEO of ESD.

ESD compared live project estimates using as a baseline contractor bids for a 60,000-sf greenfield data center comprising 20,000 sf of raised access floor area at 150 watts per sf and 10,000 sf 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%); feeder, both overall (55%) and for copper (48%); copper-based utility transformers (19%); and steel joists (18%).

In contrast, ESD found that the price of UPS systems, HVAC equipment (i.e. computer room air-conditioning units and chillers), and precast tilt-up concrete building systems are stable, and the market for medium-voltage switchgear remains competitive, although prices have slightly dropped (4%).

Similarly, the study showed that prices of other equipment have remained stable, while delivery schedules for that equipment have changed significantly, for better or worse. For example, the price of batteries fell slightly (3%), but delivery schedules remain long. The price of generators has fallen only moderately (8-12%), but delivery schedules are significantly shorter (40%).

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