The new NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center (NWSC) has won the 2013 Datacenter Dynamics North American Green Data Center award.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the facility operator; and Lakewood-based engineering firm The RMH Group accepted the award at a ceremony held in San Francisco on July 12.

NWSC is a $70-million, 153,000-sq-ft facility located in Cheyenne that provides advanced computing services to scientists studying a broad range of disciplines, including weather, climate, oceanography, air pollution, space weather, computational science, energy production and carbon sequestration.

The architect on the NCAR project was H+L Architecture, Denver, and the facility was built by Saunders Construction Inc., Centennial, Colo. The RMH Group, Lakewood, Colo., was a key design team member for the NWSC’s  innovative and energy-efficient mechanical and electrical systems.

“The NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center is a state-of-the-art supercomputing facility that realizes incredible power consumption efficiencies and is on track to achieve a PUE below 1.10,” said Terry Autry,  senior vice president of The RMH Group. “One of the most intriguing aspects of the facility is the cooling system that takes advantage of local climate conditions through a unique application of proven, cost-effective technologies to achieve the dramatic energy savings.”

The NWSC can accommodate supercomputing systems with power densities up to 1,000 watts per sq ft. Even with that much power consumption, the NWSC is on course to be one in the top 1% of most-efficient data centers worldwide.

Highly efficient evaporative cooling towers harness the cool, dry climate of Cheyenne to chill the supercomputers for 96% of the year without need for energy-intensive mechanical cooling. Waste heat from the supercomputers is captured and re-used to heat administrative areas of the building and melt snow and ice on exterior walkways and loading docks.

A chilled-beam system—a method for delivering heating and cooling to a space with little energy—provides effective cooling in the administrative areas. A host of ultra-efficient water-conserving technologies facilitate savings of up to six million gallons of water per year. The highly modular NWSC design will enable the facility to house multiple generations of supercomputer-class systems as new technologies emerge.

“We are gratified that our efforts to build and operate the most efficient and sustainable data center possible have been successful and that the NWSC is being recognized on its merits,” said Gary New, who manages the NWSC for NCAR’s Computational and Information Systems Laboratory (CISL). “Nearly 10 years of planning and hard work went into making our vision a reality.”

The Datacenter Dynamics award marks the second major award for the NWSC, which, earlier this year, was the winner in the Facility Design Implementation category in the 2013 Green Enterprise IT Awards competition.

The Datacenter Dynamics North American awards—frequently referred to as the “Oscars” of the data center industry— recognize the best innovation, leadership and different thinking in the data center industry throughout the region. This was the inaugural award competition for DatacenterDynamics in North America; all previous award competitions had been abroad.

The Green Data Center category celebrates the success of those organizations that have demonstrated their vision of sustainability as a critical driver in the design and operation of their data facilities despite increasing pressures of power costs, regulation, community and environmental responsibility.

Other finalists in the Green Data Center category were the Facebook LEED-Gold-certified data center located in Prineville, Ore., and the University of Iowa LEED-Platinum-certified Information Technology Facility.