George J. Shaw Construction Places Concrete for New Iowa Data Center
A Data Center Boom: As More Data Centers Bloom on Former Iowa Farmlands, More Opportunities are Available for Construction Firms and Residents Alike
Data centers provide a centralized location for companies to place their servers, applications and data. The structures’ mechanical systems maintain the air temperature conducive to computing. The buildings often have redundancies, so if the power goes out or something else happens, the computer equipment can continue to operate and air will remain cool. The Telecommunications Industry Association develops and maintains national standards and minimum requirements for data centers.
The Greater Des Moines Partnership reports that the area’s low electrical costs, strategic location and tax incentives are draws for companies, such as Microsoft and Apple, to build data centers in the region. It indicates Microsoft is building a 1.7 million-square-foot data center in West Des Moines; Apple plans to build a $1.4 billion, 400,000-square-foot data center in Waukee; and Facebook is adding 1 million square feet of space. The city has approved a development agreement, which would waive property taxes on the proposed buildings for 20 years. The projects are expected to bring jobs to the region.
The New Altoona Data Center
George J. Shaw Construction of Kansas City, Missouri, is performing concrete work for a new data center in Altoona, Iowa, northeast of Des Moines. Turner Construction Co., which has a Des Moines office, serves as the general contractor on the Altoona Data Center project. About 1,000 construction workers are working on site. Turner Construction has been the general contractor for prior buildings at the site.
The city of Altoona reports that the data center will be powered by clean and renewable energy through a wind farm in Wellsburg, Iowa. The buildings will have a hydraulic cooling system, which uses less electricity and water than average data centers.
George J. Shaw is handling the concrete work. The company was founded in 1928, as a hauling contractor. Now, its different divisions employ several hundred people who perform concrete work, excavation, earthwork and structural work. George J. Shaw built some of the buildings in this existing data center site.
The project required significant planning and back up plans for the construction crews, which adapted to glitches, such as inclement weather. George J. Shaw has placed propane tanks, blankets and heaters under the decks to keep the area warm. This past fall, crews were working to get the building enclosed before winter. Throughout the site, the team measures air quality and carbon dioxide levels.
George J. Shaw has placed a priority on safety, ergonomics, increased productivity, and altering pours, so other trades can enter the building. Communication among trades has been good. George J. Shaw and many of the other construction firms have been on the site for the past seven years, and relationships have developed between tradespeople.
At the new data center in Altoona, northeast of Des Moines, George J. Shaw is pouring concrete for slab on metal decks, the slab on grade floor and about 1 mile of curbing within the building for the equipment to sit on. Raising the equipment off the floor allows air to circulate around the equipment.
The new Altoona Data Center adds about 1 million square feet of data center space in the Altoona area, which already has four data center buildings. This project is one of the first two-story data center administration buildings, which connects the two new data center structures.
The building will have two data halls. George J. Shaw placed footings starting from the core, toward the east and west, working outwards simultaneously on both halls. Sun Pumping of Grimes, Iowa, is pumping the concrete delivered by Liberty Ready Mix of Urbandale, Iowa.
George J. Shaw anticipates using about 50,000 cubic yards of concrete on the data center. The company has hired local residents for open positions.
During morning huddles, the concrete company safety manager meets with workers to discuss potential hazards and review safety measures. Each worker carries a notebook with safety tips. The safety managers walk around the site and watch for training or learning opportunities, including the use of equipment to reduce silica dust.
George J. Shaw purchased Wacker Neuson power walk-behind trowels, riding trowels and other equipment from Logan Contractors Supply in Des Moines. The equipment company operates seven locations in Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska. It sells new and used equipment, rents equipment and services the machinery. Logan Contractors also fabricates rebar and sells grout.
The Wacker Neuson CRT48 Ride-On Trowel can increase productivity. It features an easy-to-operate steering system, which decreases operator fatigue. The Wacker Neuson CT24 Walk-Behind Trowel is compact and ideal for finishing concrete along edge sections, for small surfaces, and around pillars. The trowel is ergonomic for the operator and the guide handle minimizes vibrations. The trowel’s center pole eases transportation.
“They have a good track record for serviceability,” says Matt Camp, from Logan Contractors Supply.
George J. Shaw keeps power trowels on different levels, maintaining a second set of power trowel equipment on each level of the building.
The company used John Deere Gator utility task vehicles, due to the large site size and need to move around to different locations on site.
Once the decks are completed, George J. Shaw will pour the slab on grade and curbs during the winter, as the building will be enclosed by then and heated.
The Altoona Data Center project is expected to be complete this year.