Site Selection Criteria for a Critical Data Center

Site Selection Criteria for a Critical Data Center

As the reality of supporting high density servers are forcing more users to relocate their data center to a new facility designed exclusively for high density data processing, selecting a location for these new data centers is becoming critical. In selecting a site to locate a critical data center, there are a number of factors that must be considered.

The following is a summary of some of the general factors that should be considered for any prospective site. All of these site selection criteria are designed to ensure the uninterrupted operation of a critical data center. Some of these factors may not apply specifically to your data center, but are industry standard site considerations for a mission critical data center.

Technical Factors


  • Earthquake Zone 3 or less
  • Out of any floodplains, away from inundation zones of dams
  • Outside areas impacted by hurricanes or tornadoes
  • Not within 200 yards of major highways
  • Away from all railway lines
  • No hazardous production facilities nearby
  • No airports or flight corridors nearby

Infrastructure Elements


  • Availability of capacity required
  • Availability of multiple power feeds from multiple substations
  • Written timeframes from the utility if upgrades are required
  • Record of outages/responsiveness of utility to assure power quality


  • Availability of fiber from multiple carriers
  • Diverse entrance facilities
  • Microwave line of site if needed
  • Satellite capability on roof


  • Preferable - Two sources available
  • Minimum - Space for a water storage tank with 48 hour supply of water


  • Availability if needed

Site Criteria

  • Useable size and shape with a maximum 60 X 40 ratio of depth to width
  • Securable site with berms and fencing on perimeter
  • Soil conditions to permit footings required
  • Drainage away from the building and off site

Economic Factors

Site Acquisition

  • Reasonable land costs
  • Reasonable Permit costs and approval timeframes
  • Clearly defined assessment bonds
  • Reasonable labor costs

Site Improvements

  • Location of utilities required
  • Acceptable soil conditions
  • Identified demolition and cleanup costs
  • A clean toxics report with no hazardous material or contamination

Cost Issues

  • Reasonable utility operating costs
  • Identified costs to bring telecommunication carriers on to the site
  • Identified ongoing site maintenance costs


  • Proper zoning for usage
  • Acceptable permits and review requirements and timeframes
  • Environmental impact requirements are already addressed
  • No prohibition on standby generator usage

Quality Factors

Site Location

  • Accessibility to the site
  • Availability of public transportation
  • Amenities available nearby
  • Service and vendor access to the site
  • Recreational opportunities nearby
  • Reasonable housing costs in the area

Ron Hughes, President of Cerified Data Center Design Group has been involved in the design, construction and operation of data centers for over 20 years. In the last 6 years alone, Ron Hughes has managed the design of over 1,600,000 square feet of data center space in the US, Europe, Asia and Mexico.

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