The number of data centers developed, bought and sold has exploded worldwide. In fact, data centers have come into the spotlight as a prominent asset type.
Because of the similarities between the asset types, a property manager experienced in other property types can successfully transition to data center management. No admission or graduation requirements are required, but a financial and mechanical background is extremely helpful.
What are the responsibilities?
The tasks of real estate management include financial planning and asset management, maintenance of electrical and air conditioning systems, utilities and energy consumption, environmental and regulatory requirements, life safety and security as well as cleaning and janitorial work. These areas require special attention because failure to do so will result in inefficient and costly operation.
Despite the similarities between data centers and other asset types, the management of the centers is unique as it is particularly important to monitor and report the use of utilities and energy consumption in a timely manner. The centers have to meet demanding environmental and regulatory requirements.
Data centers devour energy
Devices that use the Internet are being introduced at a tremendous rate, increasing the world's energy consumption exponentially. According to research, data centers in the US alone use more than 90 billion kilowatt hours of electricity a year, which takes roughly 34 huge – 500 megawatts – coal-fired power plants to produce that electricity. Data centers around the world consumed around 416 terawatts in 2020, which corresponds to around 3% of the total electricity consumed worldwide last year.
Industry experts believe this energy consumption will double every four years, making it much more important for data centers to use renewable energy sources like wind and solar power effectively.
Advances in renewable energy have not seen the disappearance of coal as an energy source. A data center property manager is able to reduce energy consumption and increase efficiency, thereby reducing the center's energy costs and carbon footprint.
Future of data centers
Virtually all companies use some form of technology, which means that data centers are becoming an operational backbone of every industry. In addition, the workforce for the support and maintenance of data centers is enormous, including IT infrastructure experts, software developers, IT security engineers, and server and cabling technicians. Traditional employees also support the centers: accountants, marketing professionals, brokers and leasing agents, engineers and, of course, facility managers on site. This bodes well for the future of data centers and the next generation of real estate professionals.
Editor's note: This article was adapted from “No Longer Just a Niche” published in the September / October 2021 issue of the Journal of Property Management.