How to Build Two Identical Data Centers in Entirely Different Climates


Designing and building identical data centers in different parts of the world is no easy feat. The challenge is to develop a flexible core design to support these critical facilities while considering drastically different climates, energy sources and environments.

Syska recently provided engineering services for Stream Data Centers, who provide world-class data centers for the nation’s largest companies. The project required us to design and build approximately 75,000 sf ‘identical’ data centers in Chaska, MN and San Antonio, TX.

In Chaska, MN, just outside the rapidly developing Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area, the high average annual snowfall is 46” and temperatures range from -30° F to 103° F.

In contrast, San Antonio, TX — one of the fastest growing US cities – has temperatures that range from 15° F to 110° F. It is also home to resource-rich portions of the Eagle Ford Shale, a sedimentary rock formation that is proven to be challenging for new construction.

The Stream Data Center team had a phased design and construction approach to provide maximum scalability, flexible infrastructure, and diverse power and fiber paths.

  • Chaska’s data center required indoor pump rooms to protect against the harsh winters, integrated chiller economizers to utilize free cooling, and a surrounding retaining wall to compensate for the poor soil and adjacent protected waterways.
  • Because San Antonio doesn’t require as much heating, all exterior equipment (including generators) were specified with larger cooling coils and ventilation to accommodate the summer heat wave. The design also accounted for a 40-foot elevation difference across the site to accommodate sedimentary rock.
  • The two roof designs were similar, and each was designed to support a flexible and uniform hanging load allowing future tenants to customize their own data hall space.
  • Each data center was designed to withstand 185 mph winds and uplift, built with a minimum 20-year lifespan, and designed for LEED Silver and Uptime Tier III certifications.
  • Each data center was designed to include three private suites—encompassing 10,000 sf of raised-floor data center space and 5,000 sf of office space—with their own 2N electrical and N+1 mechanical infrastructure, including dual power feeds to all critical equipment, and infrastructure independent from the other suites.