Seismic Ratings

When do you need to have seismic rated equipment?  Should you have all equipment rated for an earthquake or just redundant equipment?  What equipment would be rated for a seismic event?  Of course the answer to these questions is – it depends.

The need for seismic rated equipment depends on the level of risk that can be accepted.  The first place to start would be to investigate the seismic zone at the location of the data center.  The applicable building codes will have guidance based on the zone, which will also specify the seismic requirements for life safety equipment.  This can be a good place to start to guage whether the equipment should be as robust to keep a facility, or just certain areas, operating after an event.

Looking at the seismic needs for only the mission critical areas is one way to cut the cost of providing seismic rated equipment versus typical equipment.  Another way to cut costs is to provide only seismic rated equipment on the equipment needed to provide the bare minimum of power and cooling.  This is a risk that must be recognized, as this would neglect occupied areas and ventilation.

Should your redundant equipment be seismic rated?  If it is not, it would not be considered truly redundant.  Perhaps that is a risk to be taken in a lower earthquake region, but otherwise this may not be the wisest recommendation.

While your equipment may have a seismic rating the other systems, such as piping, should be considered to have the proper supports.  After all, your equipment will not be able to operate long without the rest of the interconnecting systems to support it.

Although this doesn’t have much to do with energy efficiency it has everything to do with maintaining operations after a seismic event.  When an earthquake happens, reliability still becomes the first goal of most data centers.  With seismic rated equipment checking and fixing becomes much easier and the number of replacements is reduced, which is ultimately greener.

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