Environmentalists sink Nautilus data center

The proposal by Nautilus Data Technologies to set up a water-cooled data storage facility at Alameda Point was soundly rejected by the Alameda City Council on June 18.  The facility would have pumped over 14 million gallons of water a day through its facility to cool computer servers.  The company said water cooling is better for the environment than existing air conditioning technology.  But by the time the environmental community was finished weighing in, it was clear that the Nautilus once-through cooling system would have replaced one problem by creating a new one.

The screen on the intake pipe underneath Pier 2 sounded good, until you consider that all the water coming out the other end in the Bay would have been filtered water that would have upset the natural ecological balance.  Marine life would have been pasted against the intake screen and periodically scraped off.  Tiny organisms would have made it through the screen and potentially been killed by the heat.  The heated water at the point of discharge was another big concern, since warming water is one of the conditions in which toxic algae blooms occur.

Below are excerpts from letters sent by environmental groups to the city council and excerpts of public comments at the meeting.  Thank you to all who spoke up for the natural world and our fragile Bay ecosystem. Continue reading “Environmentalists sink Nautilus data center”

10 reasons why data center should change water cooling pipe location

Open Letter to Mr. James Connaughton
Chief Executive Officer
Nautilus Data Technologies

Dear  Mr. Connaughton,

The Alameda City Council has granted you approval of moving forward with your data storage facility at Alameda Point.  Please reconsider the route for discharging warm water from the cooling system.  Instead of heading south under the Bay Trail and through the harbor near the ferry maintenance facility, send the water discharge pipe north to the Oakland Estuary.

As someone who was instrumental in protecting large tracts of the Pacific Ocean during your tenure as environmental advisor to President George W. Bush, I believe the alternative route will appeal to your marine conservation values. Continue reading “10 reasons why data center should change water cooling pipe location”

Water-cooled data center proposal . . . not so cool

Nautilus Data Technologies is proposing to convert Building 530, located at 120 West Oriskany Avenue at Alameda Point, into a data storage facility.  The facility would draw 10,000 gallons of water a minute from underneath Pier 2 in order to cool the racks of computer servers.  The warmer water, about 4 degrees warmer, would be discharged into San Francisco Bay.  Water cooling is a cheaper alternative than traditional air conditioning.

The proposal will be voted on at the May 7 city council meeting.

Here are some points made in the city staff report in support of the proposal, followed by reasons why this proposal does not deserve support.

PointThe city staff report claims that the facility will be environmentally friendly because water cooling will use less electricity for cooling than traditional air conditioning.

CounterpointStarting in 2020, all of Alameda Municipal Power (AMP) electricity will be carbon free, producing zero greenhouse gas.  Reducing electrical usage in Alameda is not an environmental benefit, only a cost-saving benefit to the business. Continue reading “Water-cooled data center proposal . . . not so cool”

Rocket manufacturing coming to Alameda Point

Alameda Point has specialty craft breweries and distilleries.   Coming soon – craft rockets.  Startup company Astra Space hopes to sell its economy-sized rockets to any entity wanting to launch its own small satellite into low earth orbit.

On April 22, the city council and members of the public got a tour of its nearly completed production facility prior to a special meeting of the council.  The meeting was billed as a recommendation to authorize the city’s commercial real estate broker Cushman and Wakefield to market a 24-acre industrial area in the commercial Enterprise District to businesses and developers.  But because Cushman and Wakefield had already been authorized to market the area at least twice since 2015, the real reason for the tour and meeting was to showcase a shifting strategy for the district that will now include adaptively reusing some existing buildings, rather than tearing everything down as previously envisioned. Continue reading “Rocket manufacturing coming to Alameda Point”

Nuclear research coming to Alameda Point historic district

Tenant plans to design next-generation nuclear power plant

The underground infrastructure at Alameda Point may be old and in need of replacement, but many of the Navy’s industrial and civic buildings were built to last centuries.  One of those buildings is Building 9, a former records warehouse on West Tower Avenue right across the street from the Bladium that is rock solid and worth rehabbing.

According to developer Joe Ernst of srmErnst, the horizontal alignment of the steel superstructure has moved a mere 1.2 inches in the 77 years since it was built.  “And for all we know, it could have been off by an inch when it was built,” said Ernst.

Building 9 at 707 West Tower Avenue undergoing $24 million renovation project.

The hangar-like structure is being readied for the first tenant, Kairos Power.  Kairos will set up a laboratory to test components that will make up a new type of nuclear reactor.  No radioactive material will be handled there.  In fact, Ernst says it’s spelled out in the deed.

Continue reading “Nuclear research coming to Alameda Point historic district”

Housing limit under review

Part of the vacant military housing near Alameda Landing, formerly known as North Housing, fetched a winning auction bid of $38 million.

In order to complete the sale, the current “government” zoning designation must be removed.  At the same time, the city recommends removing the government zoning from two adjacent parcels that will soon be transferred to the Alameda Housing Authority and Habitat for Humanity.  The residential, multifamily zoning will remain intact. Continue reading “Housing limit under review”

Dining on the farm at Alameda Point

The Alameda Point Collaborative (APC) served up gourmet meals at their annual Urban Farm Table fundraising event on Sunday, May 15, 2016. About 100 guests were seated under a canopy squarely in the middle of crops growing on the Alameda Point farm.

Keynote speaker Matthew Dolan, executive chef at Twenty Five Lusk in San Francisco, spoke at the Urban Farm Table fundraiser for the Alameda Point Collaborative.
Keynote speaker Matthew Dolan, executive chef at Twenty Five Lusk in San Francisco, spoke at the Urban Farm Table fundraiser for the Alameda Point Collaborative.

This year’s menu was again created by Jeff Rosen, executive chef at Blue Heron Catering of Oakland. Some of the salad and entrée ingredients, such as arugula, strawberries and onions, were grown within a few steps of the table.

APC is the largest supportive housing provider for homeless families in Alameda County. Adults in the community can acquire new job skills and self-confidence in APC’s various enterprises – Ploughshares Nursery, Farm2Market farm production, and commercial kitchen. The Farm2Market program sells produce through a subscription service. Continue reading “Dining on the farm at Alameda Point”