UC San Diego SearchMenu

Standards for Computer Server Rooms

Use this checklist when you design or retrofit a small to medium computer server room. This will help protect critical resources, especially during power failures, fires, floods and other emergencies.

Expand all

General space characteristics

Room specifications
  • Walls, ceiling, and doors sound-isolated from other occupied areas
  • No windows because of security and sound
  • Nine-foot ceiling
  • Anti-static floor finishing (no wax) for raised floor tiles or sheet vinyl
  • Doors 42 to 48 inches wide, and at least 8 feet tall


  • Computer racks with adequate clearance per manufacturer's specifications; at least 42 inches around equipment; 48 inches in aisles
  • Computer racks with seismic bracing and proper grounding
  • Maximum electrical intensity of computing equipment of 300 watts per square foot
  • At least one phone

Fire prevention

  • Adequate fire suppression system; pre-action system recommended
  • Fire-rated if cabling and cooling systems are combined in the same space above ceiling or below floor


  • Under-floor air distribution system preferred; ducted systems acceptable
    • In either system, racks arranged in a hot-aisle/ cold-aisle configuration
    • If under floor, minimum height of 24 inches and raised floor designed for weight of server racks, and lifting and moving equipment

Mechanical systems

Air conditioning (AC)

  • System is room-specific and humidity controlled
    • Independent, not connected to main building system
    • With design criteria of 72°F (+/- 2°F) and 45% RH (+/- 5%) as measured at the return air of the AC unit
  • Unit is at least 4 feet from computer rack system, so that condensation or other leaks don't harm computer equipment, and access for maintenance is possible
  • Unit uses the campus chilled water system, if available. Design criteria: Entering water temperature at 46°F and return at 60°F.

Future planning

  • Sufficient redundancy installed:
    • Backup refrigerant-based cooling systems in parallel with the building chilled water system
    • Multiple AC units in an N+1 design
  • Sufficient future expandability and scalability analyzed and designed in conjunction with the mechanical and electrical systems
  • Shutdown capability of automatic systems based on return air temperature monitor
  • Statistics calculated during the design phase of how fast room temperature will rise during a loss of cooling
  • Appropriate plan for removal of water from AC condensation, either by gravity or pump

Electrical systems

Capacity and quality

  • Separate, dedicated power panels for the computer equipment and HVAC. Design systems so that ultimate buildout does not exceed 300 watts per square foot.
  • Power quality considerations to determine need for isolation transformers and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems
  • No heat-generating support equipment in the space
  • Power Distribution Unit layout with power monitoring and UPS per rack
  • Electrical system with an isolated ground, dedicated neutral, and a grounding grid

Emergency planning

  • Emergency/ back-up power not tied into the building life safety system
    • Separate back-up power, if desired (for example, UPS- or generator-supplied and maintained by the department)
    • Electrical distribution system with shunt trip for emergency shutdown

Alarms and security

Alarm sytstems

  • Critical alarms related to the functioning of the AC system and physical data of the room mapped into the Facilities Management Energy Management System
  • Department-provided monitoring and alarming separate from the Facilities Management system, so the department will be notified of critical operating criteria of the computing systems
  • Flood alarms to both Facilities Management and occupying department


  • All entrances properly secured, and with alarms

Expand all

Note: This page has a friendly link that's easy to remember: http://blink.ucsd.edu/go/server-rooms.html