Project Spotlight: Wayne State University, New Data Center - Part 1

Project Spotlight: Wayne State University, New Data Center - Part 1

Wayne State University, New Data Center - Detroit, MI

Horizon Engineering Associates (HEA) was contracted by Wayne State University to provide commissioning services for the university’s new data center building. The new 11,000 sf building, located at the corner of Cass Avenue and Antoinette Street, is attached to the university’s Computer Services Center and houses mechanical equipment, state-of-the-art security, fire protection, a power back-up system and network infrastructure. In addition, a new electrical substation was built directly behind the new data center to support all of Wayne State’s computing facilities. 

HEA provided commissioning services for all mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems as well as for the complete building envelope with respect to the moisture, air, vapor and thermal control layers. These services included the necessary requirements to satisfy the LEED Energy and Atmosphere Prerequisite: Fundamental Commissioning and Verification and Credit: Enhanced Commissioning for LEED v4. Commissioning activities for mechanical, electrical, plumbing and renewable energy systems and assemblies were in accordance with ASHRAE Guideline 0-2005 and ASHRAE Guideline 1.1-2007 for HVAC&R systems, as they relate to energy, water and indoor environmental quality and durability. 

Client: Wayne State University

Location: Detroit, MI

Q/A with Glenn Cattell – Regional Director

When first contracted for this project, what did the client express as the main goal / most pressing need for our services to accomplish?

The client expressed their main goal and most pressing need for our services was reliability. A data center project has a large number of mechanical and electrical equipment to maintain everyday operation and maintain proper building temperatures, humidity and space pressurization. Data Center projects also have a lot of redundancy equipment to ensure the data center can maintain proper operations just in case any equipment failures. With this in mind, HEA was tasked to ensure all equipment worked according to the drawings, specifications and sequence of operations to ensure a proper operating building. HEA was also tasked with ensuring the building can properly operate under any foreseeable equipment failure and can maintain the design duration of operation in the event of a black out scenario. HEA tested and documented all possible events to make sure this building can maintain operation throughout a black out or any equipment failures, as well as recovery times from such events.

The client also expressed their other main goal to be efficiency and validate the designed PUE. This tasked HEA to ensure all mechanical equipment to be operating as efficiently as possible. HEA worked continuously with the client and the engineers to make recommendations to the sequence of operation to ensure the equipment will be operated to its maximum efficiency. With the systems operating correctly HEA was able to document the PUE and validate the DCIM PUE calculations and monitoring.

Based off of client feedback, where do you feel we provided the most value to this project?

HEA provided a high sense of system reliability. HEA thoroughly tested all equipment and systems failures and documented recovery times, ensured the backup systems operated properly to maintain the power to the racks, as well as space temperatures, humidity and pressure relationships were able to be maintained. 

If HEA did not properly address the deficiencies found, how would this of negatively affected the building’s performance?

HEA documented a total number of 67 issues ranging from high priority issues that have the potential to be life threatening and possible equipment failure to low priority issues like equipment not having the proper labeling. Below is a sample list of high priority issues that were found and how it could have negatively affected the building’s performance as well as life safety.

  • There were some breakers which had been put back in the gear in the wrong spot after the NETA testing and this caused some issues since breakers with kirk keys were in the wrong location and some control power is not the same between each piece of gear. Kirk Keys being misplaced prevents breakers from being properly Locked Out to allow for maintenance to occur on equipment. Breakers being installed in wrong locations could lead to equipment not operating properly or the breaker settings being incorrect and cause the breaker to trip too early or too late.
  • The UPS will allow it to be placed back on line after SKRU key is pulled out. This could allow the UPS invertor feed to be closed into the utility feed and cause damage to people and equipment. HEA recommends to have the UPS programmed to not allow it to be placed on line with the SKRU removed. The UPS returning back online will prevent the operator from performing any maintenance of the UPS as the UPS cannot be energized during maintenance. This setup will also allow the operator to think the UPS is deenergized and this could have a risk to injuring the operator performing maintenance.
  • MTS for the lighting control panel was wired with A source on the load side of the switch and the load wired to the normal side of switch. Switch will not operate correctly and could cause a potential risk to equipment and people. HEA recommends to re-wire the MTS correctly.
  • There are two tie breakers for the substation, with one being manually operated and the other being automatic, but they are not identified as being such. This can be confusing to operators. HEA recommends identifying the breakers by how they are operated. The confusion of operates could lead to the tie breaker being left in the manual position and could lead to damaging of equipment.
  • PAHU-2 MTS was not programmed to be a manual transfer switch and was behaving like an ATS. This would not allow the operations staff to place PAHU-2 on the B source. Re-program the switch to be a manually operated switch.
  • Mechanical equipment was installed in the wrong location. EF-A2 and EF-JAN were installed in each other spots. Each Exhaust Fan is rated for how much air it exhausts from an area in the building. This could lead to an area in the building from not exhausting enough as per design or exhausting too much air as per design.
  • The return air humidity sensors were not setup to operate the dehumidification system in the PAHU. The dehumidification system would have not worked in the PAHU without the sensor. This could lead to the space to be really humid and possible overcooling of the space.
  • The space humidity sensors, controlling the humidifiers (H-1 thru H-3), are temporarily mounted for the humidifiers at this time. An RFI should be generated to determine the location of these controlling sensors. The original drawings did not include locations of the humidistats and without HEA recommendation of submitting an RFI, these humidistats could have been installed in improper locations.
  • The relief air damper has not been provided with a duct access door for AHU-A.1, B.1 & AB.1. Duct access door should be provided per the project specifications. Without an access door to the relief dampers, maintenance on the relief dampers would be extremely difficult. 
  • The lead/lag operation of the PAHU is not setup to allow the lag unit to start and the lead unit to shut down when the supply air fans were all tripped off. This could prevent the building from being properly cooled and not pressurized. This could lead to electrical equipment overheating and eventually equipment failures.
  • The space differential pressure was not being communicated to the PAHU. The PAHU are not operating to maintain pressure in the data room. Data rooms are set to be extremely positive so that dust, debris and other small particles are not in the space. Small particles like dust could have negative effects on the data room electrical equipment.
  • HEA also found numerous issues in the DCIM system ranging from the Sequence of Operation calling for points to be in the graphics and they were not there, summary page missing different events, alarms were missing on failure of equipment, and the DCIM reading the wrong status of which equipment was running or not. These items were corrected but if they were not found the operator would not have known equipment was faulted, which equipment was really online at the time and other information like proper space temperature and space humidity. This could all lead to the operator maintaining the building temperature, building pressurization, etc. improperly.