Puget Sound Energy Modular Data Centers

As one of the Pacific Northwest’s largest electricity and natural gas providers, it is imperative that Puget Sound Energy (PSE) always provide structural and system excellence. While local and global trends continue to prioritize digital traffic, the demand for reliable data centers continues to rise substantially.

So, when PSE was faced with low server storage, lack of power and cooling capacity to meet consumer needs, and points of redundancy failure within their existing IT infrastructure, a massive update prioritizing stability to data center operations was critical. An east and west site were strategically chosen to maintain uptime during potential weather events or other localized interruptions. The new data centers would require at a minimum:

  • 99% uptime
  • Redundant Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) system/backup generator with at least N+1 power solution
  • Redundant HVAC system with at least N+1 chiller plant ant N+2 on air handling units
  • Cooling efficiencies infrastructure
  • Accommodates 10% growth per year for servers and storage
  • Space for 90 racks and IT load capacity of 450kW

McKinstry’s integrated mechanical and electrical teams were provided engineering expertise and skilled field teams, while leveraging their existing knowledge of data center construction. BASELAYER was able to provide containerized, modular data center components that offer scalable flexibility and a low initial cost. Together, all teams were able to deliver two, identical data centers, while also consolidating data from PSE’s four, existing, active data centers across western Washington.

AECOM was the designer for the data center. They were unable to provide their typical, data center engineers and instead used a nuclear power plant engineer. McKinstry looked at the one-line they sent early on and instantly knew that it would cost more than the project budget in both procurement and labor hours. Scott was able to put together a new one-line that reduced procurement costs by $1.5 million and countless field hours.

Because McKinstry was involved in design early on, we were able to revise and simplify the design as it was created. We worked hand-in-hand with the design team to ensure that the design would meet all performance and scheduling requirements. Had we adhered to a traditional design-bid-build method, we would have lost too many critical schedule hours to make design changes.

East Site—Cle Elum, WA

 Delivering Excellence through Dedication and Collaboration

The original East Site was slated for deployment in Ellensburg, WA, with rigorous preparation work already completed, and construction ready to begin. However, due to a conservation easement issue, the site was declared unsuitable for the required needs of the project. An addition to PSE’s existing substation in Cle Elum, WA was quickly selected and approved, however 12 weeks of prep work needed to be completed in order to get the site construction ready. This compressed the schedule from two data centers in 10 months, to two data centers in five months. Due to McKinstry’s integrated mechanical and electrical approach, existing knowledge of data center deployment, prefabrication capabilities, and overall ability to maintain flexibility, we were able to quickly adapt when project milestones suddenly changed. Because of the site change, snow and cold weather had to be factored into the compressed schedule. This required McKinstry to build a structural shelter for the base and surrounding equipment that hadn’t been planned for. Due to McKinstry’s vast shop, access to equipment and field teams, we were able to step in to build the structure before any equipment was damaged.   Six prebuilt server modular units including utility support pods, emergency back-up power source, modular mechanical system was all installed on a concrete slab & surrounded by security fencing by the project’s original handover date.

West site—Snoqualmie, WA

 Ensuring Redundancy for Optimal Stability

The West Site was already developed with an existing office building, parking and utilities, with backup generator, waste and recycling enclosure. The completed, two-story facility houses both the data center and office space to support roughly 150 PSE employees.

Considering that building-wide redundancy was of critical concern to the client, McKinstry’s integrated MEP teams worked to develop redundant systems both in the mechanical and electrical systems to maximize overall uptime. Dual chilled water plants were installed to provide N+1 redundancy across all component levels. To achieve N+1 redundancy, the chilled water plants run parallel and were sized to provide 100% of the IT load. This means that if the lead chiller fails to start or is interrupted due to a failure in one of the components, the standby chiller will automatically start and run. The automatic chiller plant control system will also utilize a schedule routine that logs run time and alternates lead/lag designation of each circuit to provide equal run time and overall system wear. By incorporating the new modular data center design into the existing infrastructure and restoring electrical systems, McKinstry’s electrical team was able to reduce costly expenses arising from a complete system rebuild. Utility service was sourced from local distribution center, while underground power was routed from new transformers to main double-edged switchgear on the first floor, powering the chillers.

Control systems were integrated with new standby power system generators were added to guarantee uptime in the event of an outage. Power metering was added in the new switchgear and networked to the BASELAYER RunSmart system for data logging.

baselayer system

The BASELAYER modular data center is comprised of prebuilt, stackable, interconnected, functional blocks for IT, cooling, power, and a security vestibule. It can be scaled as needed, and features RunSmart, intelligent control operating system that was customized to provide role-based visibility, system warnings, alarms, and ability to set system thresholds.


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