West Cambridge Data Centre: The Evolution of Data Centers in Cambridge

Frederick Carruthers
Frederick Carruthers
3 min read

Cambridge, much like its namesake city in Massachusetts, has long been at the forefront of innovation. From the reflecting telescope to the rules of soccer, webcams to IVF. The university counts Newton, Hawking, Keynes and Darwin, amongst its illustrious alumni. So it’s little surprise that as the city itself cements a reputation as a science hub, it has dipped into green data centers, leading the way in the higher education center. The move, which was supportive of a burgeoning digital economy, consolidated an existing (disparate) array of facilities drawing on state-of-the-art technology.

 

The data center is now operational and draws on a ‘chilled water’ hybrid system, enabling it to reduce its emissions by 10% relative to baseline. Located on a site in West Cambridge it represented a step toward ameliorating a situation which had been altogether unsatisfactory for both the university and the environment. Spread over 2,200 sq.m., it provided vital infrastructure for the University Information Services (UIS) together with the High Performing Computer Service (HPCS) and the administrative needs of Cambridge Assessment which is responsible for the administration of examination boards operating under this banner. Apart from being a boon for the University’s ability to compete in an increasingly competitive tertiary education landscape, it also has proven catalytic to the promotion of the broader sector.

 

The increased use of artificial intelligence and the seemingly irreversible movement toward a more interconnected (and data-driven) world, has increased investment in this sector. An array of pension and life funds increasingly allocate money, favoring projects in close proximity of major urban hubs. The appeal derives as much from this being a widely accepted macro trend, as the impeccable covenant strengths of operators, especially those in big tech. This has focused attention on viable sites throughout London and the southeast. A project long in gestation but worthy of analysis is Camro Data Campus.

 

Located to the West of Ely, in striking distance of Cambridge (just off the A142), it represents a consented 700,000 sq.ft. scheme on a 40 acre site. With possible routing to London- but also to Europe- reserved matters have been discharged on Phase 1 and a further 40 acres of expansion space identified. It benefits from plentiful provision by way of 6MVA available on site, fed mainly by on-grid facilities. Doubtless requiring very significant risk capital, it appears (at least outwardly) to be an attractive site on cost competitive land. The gap between credible idea and physical delivery, though, is always easier said than done.

 

Another project of note is Kao Data’s campus in Harlow, less than 20 miles from Central London within the ‘UK Innovation Corridor’ which includes both Cambridge and Stansted. Investors include Legal and General and Goldacre, a major family office. When completed, this 15 acre facility will have had a gross cost in excess of £230m, and will support an ITE load cover of over 40MW across 15,000 sq.ft. of technical space. Unlike many existing facilities elsewhere in the world, Kao will be powered by 100% renewable energy. Partners range from Infrastructure Masons to EU Networks, One Nucleus to Cambridge Wireless.

 

Part of the reason for excitement in this particular project derives from the credibility of the developer. For the uninitiated, some of its credentials are a bit of an alphabet soup. Unfamiliar acronyms, from ISO to TCO to SLA. What we do know though, is it has the highest available security practices and procedures, a dedicated on-site substation and hyper scale levels of efficiency. These designations are underpinned by accreditations from third party bodies like BREEAM, and supported by an award-winning corporate and social responsibility (CSR) strategy. In short, it looks primed, pumped and provisioned for full operation in the coming years, with Cambridge set to benefit.

 

Such developments in Cambridge (and its strategic satellites) are at the forefront of reconciling our insatiable desire for technology with our imperative to address climate change. Just as Cambridge University was at the vanguard of data center innovation for the education sector, these new schemes will provide a blueprint for a more equitable and sustainable economic recovery post COVID. Governments the world over are notorious for platitudes and empty sloganeering. The Johnson government’s exhortation to ‘Build Back Better’ neatly fits into this category. It’s questionable motives, though, should not detract from the need of all businesses to move to more responsible practices and innovate for the future. With the endless proliferation of high-impact, tech enabled businesses coming out of Cambridge, it seems as good a place as any to lead in this vital sector of the real estate industry.

 

Leave a Comment
Recent Articles
Subscribe


Sign up to receive the Propeterra's newsletter and exclusive property news and updates. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe links in our emails.

 

 

posts by tag

See all

Market Cover_Emerging Markets-1

 

Market Cover_Frontier Markets-1

 

Market Cover_Special Situations-1-1

 

Market Cover_Developed Markets-1

 

Recent Articles

3 minutes read

Mongolia’s Active Diplomacy in a Post-COP World

In November, Mongolia celebrated sixty years as part of the United Nations (UN). For many countries, this means little, as such milestones, by definition, come and pass on a regular basis. It assumes greater importance for Mongolia, though, given the particular geopolitical framework it has to work with. By dint of geography, this vast country has an unusual position. In a strategically important location between Russia and China, it is relevant to not only its own prosperity but also the broader world. Since independence, Mongolia has tried to maintain constructive relations with those it shares borders, but also to project beyond North Asia. Its successful third neighbour policy, takes in partners from South Korea to Japan, India to the United States.

Mongolia

4 minutes read

Investing in Good or a Good Investment?

How can we judge the environmental impact of property development?
‘Sustainable’, ‘green’, ‘eco-friendly’, ‘ethical’: too frequently seen as - and
used as - zeitgeisty buzzwords to allay any discomfort investors may feel
over looking for the next most profitable venture. But anyone with even
half an eye on the news and weather reports can see that environmental
sustainability can not be merely an optional consideration when planning
developments or deciding where to invest – especially when it comes to
real estate, given that almost 40% of carbon emissions are from the built
environment. But in a world with such interconnected systems and
ecologies, how can we predict impacts that may be surprising and far
reaching?

AidData, a research lab at the College of William and Mary, Virginia, has
been developing the technology and resources to do just that. Their team
includes economists, political scientists, geographers, developers,
program evaluators, policy analysts, and communications professionals,
and they work with 21 different countries in Asia, Latin America and
Africa, using data and hard evidence to improve policy and development
outcomes, helping policymakers to move towards the UN’s 17 Sustainable
Development Goals.

Using satellite, household survey, economic, health, and other spatial
data, along with machine learning analysis and super-accurate data on
geographical boundaries, AidData have created various tools to analyse
the impacts of various development programs, and to predict whether
similar programs would work in other locations. Their Geospatial Impact
Evaluation methods enable fast and rigorous analysis of outcomes for
localised development projects, replicating the standards of a randomised
controlled trial. Development agencies and governments are able to very
quickly discover whether some certain infrastructure project, for example
irrigation systems or village road improvement, had the desired effect on
outcomes like infant mortality, poverty, or deforestation. The highly
localised and granular data can also show whether outcomes are uneven
from region to region, allowing more targeted development in future.
Is there a way we can apply the same rigorous impact-analysis to our
small-scale investments that AidData is enabling international
development agencies and world governments to apply to their
investment in aid, infrastructure, health, and other initiatives?

Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance are becoming ever
more important criteria when analysing an investment’s risks and
opportunities. In many emerging markets such as Malaysia and Indonesia,
the Islamic finance sector is growing more and more influential too, with
its strong alignment to ESG principles. Propeterra is looking at ways to
adapt the Geospatial Impact Evaluation methods created by AidData and apply them to affordable and social housing projects in emerging and

Social Impact

4 minutes read

Addressing the Global Affordable Housing Shortfall

 

Housing Crisis