In network infrastructure hot spots like Ashburn, Virginia, ready-to-use data center space is growing slim, with fewer land sites available for new builds. The effect of this scarcity is leading to some creative approaches to data center construction, such as retrofitting an existing building to reuse a property or aggregating parcels together in underdeveloped areas. The unintended consequence of these new builds is that data centers are operating closer than ever to residential areas, and many communities are wary.
Nobody knows this challenge better than PowerHouse Data Centers’ vice president Luke Kipfer, who manages new builds in the heart of Data Center Alley regularly. Kipfer recently made appearances on two separate podcasts where, among other topics, he discussed the importance of public awareness and community relations for data centers.
On an appearance on Nomad Futurist, a podcast series with the aim of exploring the evolution of technology and society, Kipfer was asked about what he sees as the constraints for data centers in the public square and the necessity for strong neighbor relations. “There’s a need for education in these communities to show the benefits that data centers bring,” says Kipfer in the episode, “It’s education of the neighbors to understand what data centers provide. Data centers are adding this huge amount of tax revenue and they’re satisfying a need for that area, for that neighborhood. These are there to serve a need of the community. They’re bringing in great jobs, and they’re not bringing in traffic.”
Later, Kipfer elaborates on how an approach to better community education on data centers could work. “I think that it needs to be an approach from several different levels,” explains Kipfer, “We need to have local community government support to be able to help educate the people in their area. As operators of data centers, we need to be involved in community relations and local trade organizations.”
In a separate podcast appearance, Kipfer talks more about his approach to community relations as an executive at PowerHouse. He appeared on an episode of JSA’s own Data Movers, a podcast highlighting leaders in the telecom and data center space. In the episode, Kipfer talks about the importance of community relations in new data center construction projects: “We‘re coming in as a new player, and we really believe it’s important for us to be good neighbors. Especially as data center growth and density are increasing, the data center market is no longer flying under the radar when it comes to neighborhood relations. It’s been more important that data centers take an active role to be great neighbors”
Kipfer goes on to talk about his own personal experience with a recent project, mentioning a community fun run hosted by PowerHouse at a new location. “We’re members of the data center coalition that were there, and we had a Data Center Discovery Zone where neighbors in the community came in and were able to learn about data centers, learn about jobs, and really learn about the benefits of data centers as opposed to just hearing some of the negatives that have been in the news.” For Kipfer, it was a valuable experience that he encourages all data centers to learn from. “They could really see the impact that data centers have to make communities better.”
To learn more about PowerHouse Data Centers, follow them on LinkedIn, or visit their website here.