Every year there are millions of square feet of data center space constructed but also millions of square feet that are renovated. Over the course of 20-30 years, the interior spaces of a data center may be revised two, three or more times to meet the modern needs. Along with this, whether the building is new or undergoing an upgrade, the exterior envelope should be considered as well.
The exteriors of data centers are different from project to project and client to client yet there are ways to help achieve better performance of those systems. Cool roofs, insulated wall panels, and the natural pairing of photovoltaics with roofs can lend to savings and be a showcase for energy and environmental improvements. What we need to plan is that for any new project, development or renovation, the energy consumption performance is better than the average for data centers. Per Pike Research, this approach has been widely adopted by Europe, which aims to have typical commercial buildings aiming for net-zero, to have data centers always improving over the middling performance of any of the building’s aspects.
Metal roofing has a lower maintenance over its lifespan of 40 years. It can withstand wind, fire, hail, and UV damage during that time and because it is lighter in weight it performs better in seismic zones. Often the metal panels are comprised of 30% or more from recycled content and can themselves be recycled again. The roof colors and reflective performance can significantly reduce heat gain and often have warranties that match or surpass other roof types.
Solar panels on a cool roof typically improves the energy output from the photovoltaic modules. And the panels can be installed on a metal roof system without penetrations, which then prevents voiding the long warranty. Since most PV installations are on existing facilities, the owners want the roof system to outlast the photovoltaic panels that are installed, which are often given a useful life of 20 years or more.