Data Center at GM Tech Center Earns U.S. Green Award


The U.S. Green Building Council has awarded General Motors its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certification for a large data center at the automaker’s Technical Center in Warren, an achievement shared by fewer than 5 percent of data centers in the nation.

The so-called LEED certification identified such attributes as battery-free backup power, higher-voltage energy distribution, and in-row cooling that reduces demand for power. The features, which have resulted in a 70 percent energy reduction at the facility, include:

·      Mechanical flywheels and diesel engine backup power technology.

·      In-row cooling to contain heat in a smaller area so less air is moved, reducing electricity consumption.

·      Water for the servers’ cooling system chilled by pumping it outdoors during cooler months, allowing the system to power down three-quarters of the year.

·      Higher-voltage power distribution, which eliminates the need for energy-draining transformers that generate heat to convert power to the appropriate voltage, resulting in reduced power loss by 17 percent.

Beyond the design elements, the facility continually measures and analyzes its power use in real time for optimal efficiency.

GM is building a similar data center at its Milford Proving Grounds, which along with its Warren facility, will eventually serve as dual nerve centers integrating all aspects of product development, manufacturing, marketing, sales, and other business applications around the world.

GM’s data hub on its Technical Center campus in Warren is the company’s fifth LEED-certified facility and second brownfield project.

“We set out to consolidate our global IT infrastructure from 23 data centers to two, which is helping improve application performance while reducing operating costs and energy use,” says Randy Mott, senior vice president and CIO at GM. “We’re not only gaining efficiencies from insourcing, but we’ve incorporated world-class energy-saving technology into the facility itself.”

In other news, GM announced that the millionth Cadillac built at its Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant rolled off the line Monday. The milestone vehicle is an early model of the redesigned 2014 CTS sedan, which goes on sale in October. Since its completion 12 years ago, Lansing Grand River has produced more Cadillacs than any other plant.

In addition, the automaker has nearly tripled the size of its Global Battery Systems Laboratory at the Tech Center, cementing the lab’s stature as the largest battery lab in North America owned and operated by a major auto manufacturer.

The latest addition of 50,000 square feet brings to 85,000 the total square footage of the lab. The expansion made possible the increase in the number of pack-level test channels from 64 to 112 and cell-level test channels from 96 to 120.  

“In the past four years, the competitive landscape in the electrification space has grown exponentially. This has required us to raise our game and draw a new line in the sand,” says Doug Parks, GM vice president, global product programs. “To maintain our battery leadership, this additional real estate is filled with new capability that will help us improve speed to market for our next generation of battery systems and help us improve the value equation to our customers around the world.”

GM’s Global Battery Systems Lab has been responsible for testing and validating both battery cells and packs for all of GM’s vehicle electrification systems, including the battery systems for the Chevrolet Volt, Cadillac ELR, Chevrolet Spark EV, and GM’s eAssist light electrification system.