Breaking Ground: Q & A with Jon Gibbs on the Sustainable Construction of ASH1


Since beginning our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) journey in 2021, Cologix has strived to do what’s best for the communities we serve and the planet. We have set high standards for ourselves, which include a full transition to carbon-free energy by 2030, even as Cologix continues to grow and build more data centers.

Sustainability was a top priority during the construction of ASH1, our 455K SQFT ScalelogixSM data center located in Northern Virginia that was completed in June. This state-of-the-art facility was designed and purpose-built for hyperscalers’ massive capacity and edge traffic demands while also aligning with Cologix’s Basis of Design, which considers the environmental impact of our build and operational processes.

Jon Gibbs, Senior Program Manager of Development at Cologix, offers greater detail into the construction of ASH1 and how its sustainability benefits the environment, our employees and our customers.

Q: What were some of the sustainable measures Cologix carried out during the construction of ASH1?

A: There was an existing structure on the site that had to be removed for the construction of ASH1. We were able to take some of the site’s existing concrete that was used in the foundation, sidewalks and parking lots, and transform it into Recycled Concrete Aggregate (RCA). We used that aggregate to help build ASH1. RCA helps preserve natural resources such as water, gravel and sand and reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills. Construction projects carried out with RCA typically generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions and lessen the environmental impact associated with transporting building materials. We also ensured that any existing metals onsite such as copper and steel were recycled responsibly.

Q: From permitting to commissioning, ASH1 was built in just seven months, remarkably fast for such a large facility. What role did sustainability play in the fast turnaround?

A: Using RCA meant we had what we needed on site and didn’t have to depend on or wait for deliveries of concrete, cement or sand from the quarries. The aggregate material also provided our construction team with more gravel, which came in handy whenever it rained because it prevented the site from becoming too muddy. By using the excess gravel to cover the dirt, we had fewer than 10 days of weather-related delays during the entire project.

Q: What is the most exciting or environmentally conscious feature of ASH1?

A: The cooling system at ASH1 integrates free-cooling capabilities, which means we use naturally cool air or water rather than mechanical refrigeration to cool the data center. Doing so enables Cologix to run ASH1 at maximum efficiency while also decreasing our greenhouse gas emissions. ASH1 is also equipped with a closed-loop cooling system that recirculates water within a closed circuit rather than just discharging or evaporating it. This enables Cologix to save 400 million gallons of water a year at ASH1, which is enough drinking water for 2,191,780 people per year.

Q: How can Cologix’s customers benefit from ASH1?

A: Because of its free-cooling capabilities and closed-loop cooling system, ASH1 uses less water than most data centers, enabling us to help conserve such a vital natural resource. This benefits our customers as well. Using a closed-loop cooling system means ASH1 doesn’t rely solely on the domestic water supply. In some locations, existing sewer networks may impose certain limitations on water that prevent data centers from meeting the demands of their cooling system. We don’t have that problem at ASH1. We have what’s required to cool the data center and keep our customers’ digital infrastructure running at an optimum level.

Q: What other measures were taken to make ASH1 more sustainable?

A: We implemented light-emitting diode (LED) lights throughout the entire facility. LED lights are more durable and reliable and extremely energy-efficient when compared to traditional bulbs. We also use hot-aisle containment, which prevents the mixing of hot and cold air. This reduces the amount of energy required to cool ASH1, resulting in lower energy consumption and a decrease in our greenhouse gas emissions. ASH1 is equipped with water filling stations, enabling employees and customers visiting the data center to fill their own bottles rather than use and discard hundreds of paper cups per day.  Several electric vehicle (EV) charging stations are available onsite for Cologix employees, customers, partners and vendors. Our hope is that these stations encourage those who own EVs to use them whenever visiting ASH1 or heading there to work.

Read our 3rd annual ESG report, “Building Renewable Momentum”, to learn more about ASH1 and the steps Cologix is taking in our pursuit of environmental excellence.  


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