One of the more innovative features of the new Monsanto data center is that it relies almost entirely on air flow and air-flow handling for cooling. The building is void of any cooling units found in conventional data centers.
The building has two floors: The first floor has a 20-foot ceiling and houses all the utilities-power switches and backup, the air-flow handling units (essentially, large fans) and cable distribution. The second floor has a 17-foot ceiling with a three-foot raised floor. The exterior walls have a similar three-foot air space and together the walls and raised floors provide a space for air circulation.
A good deal of time was spent during the planning stages modeling the air flow in the building, Showers says. Essentially, the design was based on the concept of hot and cold aisles of air. The hot-running servers suck cold air up from the raised floor space and the heated air then rises and gets "flushed" around to the edges of the raised floor and is sucked back in through the exterior walls and down to the first floor, where it cools. The air in the data center is recirculated five times per hour, and approximately 20 percent outside air is introduced with each air change.
Another impressive feature of the data center is its exterior wall. A glass shield serves as a protective barrier; it's able to withstand a tornado with 200 mph winds, and able to deflect 90 percent of the sun's heat.