by Property Forum | Industrial

Warsaw is one of the top ten cities for data centre development in the category of power cost and environmental risk, reveals a new report from Cushman & Wakefield. In addition to Warsaw, the top ten markets for data centres by industrial power cost include Montreal, Reykjavik, Johannesburg, Portland, Vancouver, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Atlanta, and Seattle, with some focusing on the use of renewables, thereby offering the lowest costs in the long term.


“Data centres are unique in themselves and constitute a separate real estate sector. It is true that they are similar to industrial properties, for instance, on account of zoning provisions, but design and power requirements are far greater than typically seen in the warehouse or manufacturing sectors. In this case, the location decision is not driven by such factors as labor availability, convenient transport connections or visibility from key arterial routes, but mainly by the possibility and cost of provision of required power, frequently tens of megawatts, the risk of flooding or the impact of an airport,” says Kamil Żach, Senior Negotiator, Industrial & Logistics Agency, Cushman & Wakefield.

Environmental risk

Mission-critical means mission-critical when it comes to data centres, and not only must the facilities be constructed to high fault tolerances; the locations chosen for these critical assets are just as important to avoid potential natural disasters. This can be a difficult task as large population centres that drive data traffic are often located in coastal areas susceptible to flooding, earthquakes, hurricanes, or other natural mayhem. The top ten locations for environmental risk out of 1,189 data centres around the world are Dublin, Madrid, Oslo, Warsaw, Paris, Vancouver, Berlin, Lagos, Singapore, and London.

“The uniqueness of data centres stems from their function, which is data storage. Such facilities must, therefore, be fault-tolerant, which is confirmed by TIER certification (a system determining the uptime and availability of infrastructure, e.g. Tier IV indicates the availability of 99.995%). For that reason, such buildings must sit in locations where at least two separate power lines can be provided. Additionally, they should not be located close to facilities posing a risk to data centres such as airports or refineries, or in areas at risk of flooding (100- or 500-year floodplains according to flood hazard and risk maps). Due to all the above factors, data centres must be constructed only in areas that fulfil the above requirements,” says Ryszard Gwóźdź, Senior Technical Manager, Industrial & Logistics Agency, Cushman & Wakefield

“The building itself and its infrastructure must meet above-standard requirements for its structure, security systems (CCTV, AC, I&HAS), ventilation and air-conditioning (including chemical contaminant monitoring, etc.) with waste heat recovery and, as said earlier, a power supply system and adequate power supply,” adds Ryszard Gwóźdź.

Power cost

Despite the considerable financial outlay required in building construction, server acquisition, and the permitting process, the highest cost of a data centre over the life of the facility is often power. Data centres use immense amounts of electricity, particularly for resource-heavy applications such as artificial intelligence or machine learning, and mitigating power usage to generate maximum efficiency is a unique science in itself.

Power is a major cost of data centre operations, with those areas offering the lowest power cost often being the most attractive for large-scale processing. In addition to Warsaw, the top ten markets for data centres by industrial power cost include Montreal, Reykjavik, Johannesburg, Portland, Vancouver, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Atlanta, and Seattle, with some focusing on the use of renewables, thereby offering the lowest costs in the long term.

“Through the increased demand for IT services delivered from Central and Eastern Europe and the thriving e-commerce in this region, data centre planning and development have shifted to Poland. Despite previous searches for solutions supporting the IT market such as the construction of server facilities in large cities or conurbations, it was not until the arrival of new technologies and building standards that enabled data centres to be built within industrial parks. In the future, this will enable heat energy balancing between facilities with a view to ensuring zero-energy and zero emissions buildings. The coming years will show how swiftly sustainable solutions can be implemented on the warehouse and industrial market or in special economic zones,” says Michał Sikora, Land, Technical & Special Economic Zone Consultant, Industrial & Logistics Agency, Cushman & Wakefield.

The study evaluated 1,189 data centres around the world, utilizing a unique weighted methodology to rank 48 global markets and arrive at our Overall Top Ten markets. Key emerging data centre markets are also identified in the Ten Markets to Watch section.