Blog / 23.05.2017

5 Things you didn’t know about constructing a data center in Finland

Elizaveta Ageeva, Project specialist, NCC

Much has been said about Finland as an attractive location for data centers, and one may claim that there is nothing new under the sun to add to this. I believe, however, that different perspectives bring additional value, so let’s take a look at this topic from a general contractor’s point of view.


1. Finland is a cool country. Literally

How cool is that cool? According to statistics from the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the average annual temperature in Helsinki is 5.8° C. For data centers this means less energy spent for cooling, which is a big share of operational costs, and the possibility to sell excess heat to district heating during cold Finnish winters (and autumns, and springs). From a construction perspective, cooling solutions require special equipment adapted for a data center’s needs. Installation should also be considerately thought through, because even the direction of wind and sunshine affects the final outcome.

2. Sustainability and digitalization

The environmental element of sustainability deals with the physical world. Being in a cloud is certainly an environmentally friendly activity, but when it comes to bricks and mortar, sustainability becomes a matter of high importance. Nordic countries in general, and Finland in particular, are known to be front-runners in this field. The quality of the construction process is most often ensured by environmental certification systems like BREEAM or LEED. From a client’s perspective, investment in sustainability pays back in the form  of lower operational costs, positive company image and a significant increase in the data center’s liquidity as a real estate asset.

Digitalization is quite a new phenomenon for the traditional construction industry. However, VDC (Virtual Design & Construction) already now provides great advantages and cost savings during the construction process by using modelling, augmented reality and various business metrics.  

3. Ease of doing business in Finland

Speaking of cross-border investments, it is not the pure existence of a business-oriented environment, but the actual accessibility to information, which plays an important role for the international investor. Government agency Invest in Finland provides comprehensive consulting services to businesses entering the country.
Finland has been highly ranked in numerous reports, e.g. stability (1 of 178 by Fund for Peace), safety (1 of 136 by World Economic Forum), environmental performance (1 of 180 by Yale University), strongest digital market (by European Commission) and in more than 60 other reputable rankings. Among others I would like to mention the high-level of English-speaking skills (by Education First), which is vital for a complex international construction projects like data centers.

4. Have you heard of sisu by the way?

Well, “The Times” has, so you better have too. I can’t help but quote:

“Sisu - A Finnish word that means bravery, resilience, stoicism and hardiness. For obvious reasons, sisu is going to be one of the must-have qualities this year. So, so hot right now.”

Finns get the work done, and this is exactly the situation, when actions speak louder than words.

5. Dream TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More

Constructing a data center brings together various actors with different backgrounds, making the project process multi-faceted and thus quite complicated. Implementation of the project in a foreign country increases the overall risk of potential uncertainty. Perhaps the best approach to the process would be to accumulate the interests and capabilities of all the parties under a partnering agreement. The success of an alliance cooperation in large-scale construction projects has been proving its efficiency in Finland for a long time.

Individual success is ensured by pursuing common targets and achieved by arriving at win-win solutions. The general contractor in this scheme takes the position of project leader, who brings together and facilitates cooperation between the participants. The rewarding result of such a construction business model will be a turn-key data center project, which has been tailor-made and built according to the client’s needs.

I dare to say that Finland provides a legion of opportunities to succeed with data center projects for those who believe in technology and innovations, look to the future and, at the same time, appreciate nature’s power and energy. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.

About the author: Liza is currently involved in the development of the NCC Data Center concept, where she can embrace her creative and communication skills, whereas her legal and economic backgrounds help keep her feet on the business ground.


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