Henderson’s Insights from AFCOM Data Center World 2023

Drew Rimmer, Business Sector Design & Construction Director and Mission Critical Practice Director at Henderson Engineers, and Earl Wilcox, Mission Critical General Manager at Henderson Building Solutions, recently represented Henderson at AFCOM’s Data Center World 2023. The event brings together experts to strategize and provide insights on technologies and concepts being used to plan, manage, and optimize data centers. The duo returned from the conference with the following takeaways:

Sustainability and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance)

As a whole, the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry continues to move towards more sustainable and regenerative design practices and initiatives, and data centers are following suit. As these facilities begin to be deployed in more urban environments and densely populated areas, it is important to consider the impact of data centers on the environment, nearby neighborhoods, and resources.

Power intensity continues to rise and developing ways to accommodate this additional power load is going to require some subsidy of the current power grid and building power sources. Technologies such as new higher power batteries, solar, wind, and nuclear are being evaluated.

Many of our existing data centers utilize water in open loop systems that cycle a few times and discharge to our sanitary infrastructure. Some jurisdictions are putting restrictions on the discharge of water into their systems. Due to the cost of replacing existing cooling systems, owners are innovating ways to reuse, reclaim, and reduce their use of water.

Innovating the Future

The data center market is at an inflection point in many ways. Power, chip intensity, human capital, geography, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and other factors are driving the industry in new directions. Innovation and creativity will be an absolute as the engineers in the present and future will need to adapt quickly to stay relevant and solve the puzzle of future data center construction.

Suddenly, the implementation and deployment of platforms such as ChatGPT have dramatically affected power and chip load profiles. Hyperscale and colocation providers are already behind the curve in solving this influx of data.

With the incredible surge in chip heat, alternate, innovative, and modern technologies will be required since the use of air as the heat rejection medium will no longer suffice. Alternates include direct-to-chip cooling and immersion through dielectric fluid. Both will be necessary to cover the sizable market.

Additionally, there is an ongoing void of talent in the data center industry. Our education system is not tooled to teach the upcoming generation the skills for the digital age. Starting in early childhood education, the system must create curriculum to teach the skills required for the next generation of tech; much of which has not been discovered.

Henderson Knows Mission Critical

To us, creating environments that are essential to the survival of a business, organization, or community is gratifying work. We design and construct mission critical facilities such as data centers and public safety centers to keep their “always on” services running safely and efficiently. We work closely with each facility to ensure redundant power and cooling systems keep critical services running. Our purpose is to build a better world, and our mission critical facilities are often at the heart of safer, smarter, more productive communities. Learn more about how Henderson Engineers and Henderson Building Solutions can assist with your mission critical needs.

Written By

Business Sector Design & Construction Director | Business Sector Mission Critical Practice Director | Principal | BOD

Written By

Mission Critical General Manager


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