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Rock-solid data centre

01.09.2022Bouygues Energies & Services

Data centres provide the foundation for the digital age and have become an essential part of the business world. As a consequence, data volumes have been rising consistently for years. Unsurprisingly, data centres are considered critical infrastructure and must be protected accordingly, against natural hazards, fire, unauthorised access and other threats. What could be better than situating a data centre on secure ground? 


In the 1960s, facing the impact of the Cold War, the canton of Lucerne built a civil defence facility in the Wartegg hill near the marina of Tribschenhorn for the Government Council, public administration and students from the nearby Lucerne cantonal school. The bunker facility features over 3,500 m2 of tunnels and, embedded in the hard Wartegg rock, offers the best possible physical protection and an ideal, dry climate. That’s why ewl Energie Wasser Luzern decided to build a high-performance Tier 3+ class data centre with 1,640 m2 of usable IT space in the abandoned tunnels. As the data centre generates considerable waste heat, cooling the space is crucial for smooth and secure operations.  

Ecological data centre with TÜViT certification

ewl brought in the building services specialists from Bouygues Energies & Services in the central region to implement the challenging heating and cooling generation in the «Stollen Lucerne Data Center», with planning beginning in 2012. Water from Lake Lucerne, supplied via a line that runs from the energy centre on Inselquai to the Tribschen district, is used to generate heat and cold. Treated lake water is used for cooling, with around 300,000 litres running through the tunnel per hour. This generates waste heat that benefits surrounding residential areas in the form of additional heating. All of this results in an energy-efficient, carbon-neutral operation of the underground data centre.  


To ensure the utmost level of fire safety, the ventilation system installed by Bouygues Energies & Services mixes nitrogen into the breathable air, so that the oxygen content in the tunnel drops to 17% – a value that is well below the usual 21%, but not low enough to have a harmful impact on humans. Conversely, the waste heat from the oxygen reduction system is used to heat the front building and individual offices in the tunnel. ‘Multitec – our cross-trade approach which makes us unique in this regard, has provided true added value for the project,’ explains Project Manager Engel Culjak, and his colleague Hysni Palushi, Team Leader HVAC at Bouygues Energies & Services, adds: ‘And the collaboration with other contractors was respectful and seamless – a real win.’ 



You can find out the challenges that the two building technicians faced in implementing this project in the Film.