Cobalt Data Centre raises the bar with BREEAM ‘Outstanding' award

Cobalt Data Centre raises the bar with BREEAM ‘Outstanding' award

Prologis Park in Dunstable features three new data centres, the third of which was awarded a BREEAM rating of Outstanding for its environmental features.


Cobalt Data Centre 3 at Pologis Park has continued the run of successful BREEAM assessments, with an ‘Outstanding’ rating. The data centre uses a range of cooling strategies to reduce its energy consumption. The building also has a number of environmental features to promote sustainability as well as a comfortable working environment.


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



Cobalt Data Centre 3 is the latest addition to Cobalt Data Centre Campus. The new building provides more than 2,400 sq m 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.


Cobalt Data Centres 2 and 3 are some of the first 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 10,000 sq m of data hall space, making it one of the largest co-location campuses in the north of England.


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.

Power usage

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 should 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 this type unit.

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)

It was designed to be flexible, cost effective and to meet the highest environmental standards. We were conscious of the carbon footprint of this building and to ensure that it would operate optimally with low energy demands. We are delighted to achieve an ‘Outstanding’ BREEAM accreditation.
– Client, Highbridge North Tyneside


The assessor company, Cundall, remarked: “from concept the design team developed an integrated approach, which established a solid basis from which to achieve the BREEAM ‘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.”

Summary Woods Bagot

Woods Bagot
Bowmer & Kirkland
Assessor Company:
Data Centres 2010
BREEAM rating:
Outstanding (87.6%)

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