ORCID Identifier(s)


Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Aerospace Engineering


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

First Advisor

Dereje Agonafer


Increasingly, society is being transferred to a dependence upon electronic technologies and networked systems, usually accessed via the internet. Physically, these systems reside within clusters of servers and storage banks which are collectively housed and maintained in data center facilities. In order for a data center to function properly, the environment must be tightly controlled to ensure maximum reliability of the electronic hardware components. Any method of controlling the environment has a cost, either in capital or in resources, and therefore becomes an issue for the sustainability of a building or complex. Currently data centers are one of the largest consumers of commercially generated power (electricity), accounting for approximately 1.5% of all use globally. On average, one-third to half of that energy is consumed by the cooling systems required to maintain the strict environmental conditions for mission critical facilities. As of 2010, power generation processes required 19 gallons of water per kilowatt hour produced (this came to 45% of all freshwater withdraws in the United States). In addition to the water required for the production of the electricity utilized in the data center, the cooling technologies employed in these facilities consume significant amounts of water. The exact impact of this consumption has not been explored in depth to date. This work seeks to address this gap through a triple bottom line assessment of facility cooling systems. An experimental study is used to generate representative inputs to a thermodynamic model of the facility. This model considers cooling power, water consumption, and calculated annual operational costs of the various cooling technologies available. This constitutes the economic bottom line of the facility. Analysis across geographic regions is considered for climatic differences which impact the cooling power and water consumption. This allows for more robust life cycle impact assessment of the facility water consumption, which establishes the environmental bottom line. The water stress indicator utilized during impact assessment allows water scarcity to be considered for the societal impact of the facility. Today the focus of most corporate sustainability policies and the majority of legislative policies consider carbon footprint and/or energy efficiency of a facility. However, the discussion is beginning to include the issue of water scarcity and the associated risks. Here the impact of corporate and legislative water resource policies on facility planning and commissioning is considered. A careful study of published case studies around corporate water risk assessment completes the societal bottom line and the full assessment of the facility. Society no longer functions in silos of industry, government, public and private life. A holistic approach is necessary for finding solutions to increasingly complex problems. Currently, facility designers, owners, and municipalities consider many things when deciding on new build sites or legacy renovations. Issues which are addressed during this time include utility rates, potential tax incentives, employment and new revenue in the local economy, availability of resources such as power and network, and other policy issues such as the carbon cap tax and implementation of alternative energy sources. Understanding the impact of water availability, resource management, and conflicting water demands is critical for the immediate future of facility planning. This is especially true for the data center facility as society becomes increasingly entrenched in a digital life. This work explores not only the traditional science of improving system efficiency through engineering but also the art of developing truly sustainable built environments.


life cycle impact analysis, triple bottom line, data center cooling, thermodynamic cost model


Aerospace Engineering | Engineering | Mechanical Engineering


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington