The Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC), located at 100 Bigelow Street in Holyoke, is a data center designed to support the research computing needs of the top five research-intensive universities in the Commonwealth, including Boston University, Harvard, MIT, Northeastern and the University of Massachusetts.
The 90,300 square-foot energy-efficient computing facility, the first of its kind in Massachusetts, will be a shared space for data storage among these universities and other research institutions.
Dr. Susan Hockfield, President Emerita at MIT, explained that the idea for this project first came together during a dinner in January 2009 that featured several area university presidents. She mentioned several “crazy ambitions,” such as sharing a computing space among multiple universities and building a facility that could be green and energy efficient, that all remarkably came into fruition to make the project possible.
“We said, well maybe we could make it sustainable. With our shared interest in designing a future of clean energy, couldn’t we do something around high performance computing that wouldn’t be a red flag around energy use,” said Dr. Hockfield.
The Center has an electrical capacity of 10 megawatts to power the 10,000 high-end computers, with about 70 percent of that electricity coming from locally sourced hydroelectric power. The facility itself was also designed to maximize energy efficiency. Advanced cooling techniques, such as passive cooling water towers and cooling air placed right next to heat sources, help reduce energy usage and contribute to overall energy efficiency.
Additionally, the building was constructed with green building principals in mind. According to Jim Culbert, head of IT at the Center, they are currently in the process of applying for LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification and hope to eventually become LEED Gold certified.
According to Catherine Williams, spokesperson for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the state of Massachusetts has become a national leader in encouraging the transition towards clean energy. “We’ve set up national models for encouraging the adoption of solar, wind, energy efficiency,” she said. “We offer incentives for folks to get rebates and financing for big projects like this one for municipalities, for commercial businesses across the state. And we really are looked at as a national and international leader in adopting and deploying clean energy strategies.”
The computing center, besides being unique in its sustainability features, is also key for economic development in Holyoke and for advancing Massachusetts’ innovation economy.
“We’re going to be able to do remarkable things together in collaboration that is going to drive innovation in the state, that’s going to take Massachusetts…and put it on the map, not just as a beacon in the United States but also globally,” said Jeff Nick, SVP and Chief Technology Officer at EMC Corp.
Alex Morse, Mayor of Holyoke, thanked Gov. Patrick for his commitment to this project and for “always keeping Holyoke and western Massachusetts on his economic development agenda.”
“I think we all recognize that Gov. Patrick has been a big champion of western Massachusetts,” Mayor Morse said.
When the Governor finally took to the podium, he spoke briefly and eloquently about the American dream and “civil ideals” such as equality, opportunity, and fair play, around which our country is organized.
“The American dream is about enabling those ideals to have real meaning, in real lives, right now, and for a generation to come,” said Gov. Patrick. “That is the spirit of this project.”