The idea is to look at solutions that have several functions: in addition to serving as datacenters, also serve as a source of renewable energy and also use the waste heat to grow food or heat a gym for example. Because low-value waste heat is difficult to transport, it is advisable to use it in proximity to the data center. Another challenge is to make the construction process more efficient and thus less costly.
"By creating virtual models for current and new data centers, attractiveness, production costs, life cycle energy and other aspects can be evaluated before the datacenter is built," says Marcus Sandberg from the Division of Industrial and Sustainable Construction at Luleå University of Technology.
The need for more datacenters is growing as society is digitalized. Thus, datacenter buildings will become a more natural part of the society. Large server halls are often very energy-intensive and it is important to take a holistic approach to finding sustainable solutions that are attractive to the society. Industrial buildings such as large volume data centers may be suitable places for generating and storing renewable energy to reduce energy costs but also contribute to local energy needs.
Some have estimated the amount of money invested in Norrbotten/Luleå region on the datacenter industry at SEK 180 million . "An important part of the project is to investigate and balance the datacenter industry's needs with society's needs for datacenter operators to have a functioning operation while being perceived as an attractive and sustainable part of society," says Agatino Rizzo, researcher in Architecture at Luleå University of Technology.
Locating datacenters in northern Sweden has become increasingly popular since Facebook started the trend in 2011. It is the cheap availability of green energy, robust IT-infrastructure, the proximity to the university, and free, abundant cool air that make similar establishments attractive.
The Multifunctional Datacenter Districts for Attractive Cities project is funded by the Energy Agency and Cooperative and run within the framework of the National Research Center Cloudberry Datacenters, see the Fact Box and link below.