built environment carbon database

Cobalt Data Centre 3 on the UK’s largest business park receives BREEAM Outstanding

Prologis Park Dunstable, Boscombe Road is regenerating an urban brownfield site and bringing new employment opportunities to Dunstable.

BREEAM Outstanding (87.6%)
Data Centres 2010
Architect: Woods Bagot
Building Services: Cundall
Contractor: Bowmer & Kirkland
Assessor Company: Cundall

About the Building

Cobalt Data Centre 3 is the latest addition to Cobalt Data Centre Campus. The new building provides more than 2,400m2 of technical floor space and continues the sustainability ethos that developer, Highbridge North Tyneside has adopted for the campus. The first data centre developed on the campus achieved BREEAM ‘Excellent’, and this third new data centre raises the bar alongside Cobalt Data Centre 2 with another ‘Outstanding’ rating achievement.

Environmental Features

  • Air cooled data halls, resulting in low energy consumption and associated PUE
  • Office and administration spaces facing onto an external courtyard to promote natural ventilation and controlled daylight penetration
  • Natural light to all usable spaces to reduce lighting loads
  • Energy efficient lighting throughout
  • Air source heat pumps for heating and hot water generation
  • Use of construction materials with a very low environmental impact (Green Guide A-rated walls, roof, floor finishes/coverings, and hard landscaping and boundary protection), and use of recycled aggregates
  • Responsibly sourced thermal insulation with a low embodied impact relative to its thermal properties, specified to optimise energy demand and heat recovery
  • Rainwater harvesting from large data hall roofs to provide water for toilet flushing
  • Extensive site waste management plan (SWMP) covering several projects on the campus
  • Substantial enhancement of the ecological value of the site
  • Annualised calculated Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of 1.12 based on indirect air cooling
  • An ‘A’ rated Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

Building Services

Cobalt Data Centre 3, along with  Cobalt Data Centre 2, are some of the first data centres in the UK to achieve a BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ rating and are developed in line with the end building uses. The Cobalt Data Centre Campus offers over 10,000m2 of data hall space, making it one of the largest co-location campuses in the North.

The data centre, although constructed in-situ, has a modular design approach and is flexible to accommodate either a cooling strategy of air-optimisation or chilled water system. The focus of the developer was to provide a facility that could be flexible to meet market trends, yet still be affordable to the wholesale colocation market Energy consumption is an important factor in the operation of the data centre and has a significant impact on the operation costs.

Cooling of the data hall is proportionally the greatest energy consumer after the IT process load and so at the concept design stage, the choice of cooling strategy was debated. The chosen cooling strategy was to cool the data halls using air. The preferred cooling strategy for Cobalt is indirect-air cooling, however the design of the data centre is such that any one of several cooling strategies can be deployed including a conventional chilled water strategy.

The electrical power distribution system comprises static uninterruptible power supply (UPS) arranged to give to active UPS paths (2N). The power system is backed up with standby generators configured on an N+1 basis.

The Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) unit was used to better understand the possible impact of design and specification on the sustainability of the data centre. It is not uncommon to find data centres operating with a PUE greater than 1.8, especially if no form of free cooling has been deployed. Through calculation it is estimated that Cobalt Data Centre 3 will achieve a PUE in the region of 1.12 to 1.15 for the data halls depending on which form air cooling is deployed, a considerable improvement on energy consumption when compared with a data centre that does not deploy any free cooling strategy.

Other contributory factors to the PUE for the data halls include the adoption of low loss Transformers (Tx), IGBT Static Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) units. The UPS that is to be installed represents the latest generation of low energy UPS design, which operates in a double conversion mode at greater than 95% efficiency and will exceed the EU code of Conduct for UPS which stipulates minimum efficiencies for UPS.

“At Cundall we recognise the need to deliver truly sustainable development. Cobalt Data Centre 3 takes on the same principles as Cobalt Data Centre 2, in that it had expert design input at feasibility stage (which drove down the cooling load and Power Usage Effectiveness), an architect receptive to low carbon design principles and a client enthusiastic to achieve a highly sustainable outcome. From concept the design team developed an integrated approach, which established a solid basis from which to achieve the BREEAM Data Centres 2010 ‘Outstanding’ result. The client role has been a crucial success factor in the quality of the final product, as well as the full integration of BIM which has helped to develop, test and display the building design capabilities.” Cundall – Assessor Company


“Cobalt Data Centre 3 was designed to be extremely flexible, cost effective and also to meet the highest environmental standards. As we were very conscious of the carbon footprint of this building, special care was taken to ensure that it would operate optimally with low energy demands. We are delighted that with the assistance of our consultants we have been able to achieve an ‘Outstanding’ BREEAM accreditation.” – Client, Highbridge North Tyneside

BREEAM case studies

Browse the latest case studies from BREEAM


Using BREEAM across an asset’s lifecycle: Hermes Business Campus

Using BREEAM across an asset’s lifecycle: Hermes Business Campus

Building on their initial success with a BREEAM New Construction "Excellent" rating in 2013, NGY Properties Investment SRL further strengthens ...
A single story bungalow by a river - part of Vesteda's portfolio

World’s largest real estate certification powered by BREEAM In-Use for Dutch investors Vesteda

27,500 assets assessed in under a year for Dutch real estate investor Vesteda to prove sustainability commitment through third-party verification ...
External facade of the project building at 10 Fenchurch avenue

BNP Paribas Real Estate and Generali Real Estate achieve target of BREEAM In-Use V6 Excellent rating

Optimisation of existing building fabric and intelligent design features deliver a future-proofed asset in London's financial district ...
China Basin – Achieving BREEAM Very Good rating on a waterfront Tech & Life Sciences Campus in San Francisco

China Basin – Achieving BREEAM Very Good rating on a waterfront Tech & Life Sciences Campus in San Francisco

China Basin achieved a “Very Good” rating in both Part 1 Asset Performance and Part 2 Management Performance, the first ...
WashREIT leverages green bond funding to achieve BREEAM certification of eight assets

WashREIT leverages green bond funding to achieve BREEAM certification of eight assets

WashREIT allocated a majority of its $350 million inaugural green bond offering to green building improvements and certification as part ...

Get in touch

Contact us now or call us on +443333218811 if you would like to talk to our team about how BREEAM can support you.