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DICE Midwest 2022: Exploring Data Center Opportunities, Developments, Site Selection and Operations from Kansas to Detroit


By: Sarah Coffey, Business Development, BGIS

Arriving at my first DICE event, I felt eager once I stepped out of the car, and my eyes saw the historic Kimpton Gray Hotel in downtown Chicago, IL. Dating back to 1894, you can see the lobby filled with marble, giving an Art Deco feel. I actively made my way up the charming elevator to the 15th floor to learn about the trends in construction and development today.

The full title of the class was Construction and Development: “Building Trends Across Regions of the Midwest States Amidst Chronic Supply Chain Challenges,” and the class was made up of a diverse group of speakers in the data center world industry. The speakers included: Kristen Bejarano, Vice President of Prime Data Centers, John Diamond, Vice President of Evoque Data Center Solutions, Joshua Fluecke, Principal of Syska Hennessy Group, Kurt Lindorfer, Founding Principal of PARADIGM Structural Engineers, Dave Rooke, Project Manager of Mortenson Construction, and Matthew O’Hare, Director of Design and Construction of Element Critical.

We learned about each speaker, their different backgrounds, experiences, and something that set them apart from others (i.e., Kurt often competes in Iron Man triathlons, and Kristen can water ski!). In addition, everyone spoke about the concerns of current supply chain issues giving insight as to what they are seeing today in their businesses.

First off, they noted the average lead times of the following items in the market:

  • PDU-40wks
  • Crack/Craws-50wks
  • Chillers-60wks
  • UPS Large-52-60wks
  • Switch Gears-60wks
  • Generators-80wks

Most, if not all, suppliers are out of product, and we see the longest lead times, which is due to a lack of raw materials. Suppliers sometimes will promise something to be in by x time, but often rather than not, we see one week’s notice of these changes/postponing. Therefore, the speakers urged us to be flexible in plans, budget for extra time, be nimble for today’s programs, and design to be adaptable. I know that is not what people expect or want to hear, but something made very clear by each speaker was to push for decisions that will pay off later, not day one.

Next, we discussed other common trends seen in the market today, such as sustainability. Customers today want design partners to have a sustainability plan. Examples that can help with sustainability options are being open to minor component switches, substitution requests and using different materials, rebuilding from old products, and reusing products. Also, things like checking your DC power, for instance, if you had extra cables that are unused, that is power freed up for your use or to sell.

The class ended with each speaker stating what keeps them up at night and what they love about the industry. The speakers mainly agreed on both. What kept them up? Mostly staffing and long days. What they loved the most? Seeing a job through, plus consistent improvement and innovating in tech. This class offered a great understanding of what we see in today’s construction and development. What intrigued me the most was the talk of a sustainability plan. I think that will provide outstanding help to projects now and, in that project’s, future life. My favorite part? When John Diamond said that this time is “weirder than 1999”. It sure is! However, we can build a better future for tomorrow by sharing these thoughts and insights.