When Facebook announced plans to build a 1-million square foot data center campus in Papillion four years ago, it was an exciting development for Sarpy County, and Miller Electric, as the Omaha-based commercial electrical contractor won the opportunity to wire the campus.
Working as the Hunt Miller team with trade partner Turner Construction, Miller Electric has since completed four data halls worth of over four million square feet of facility space and are working on additional halls. After that work is complete, Miller Electric’s presence will continue in the electrical wiring of a campus expansion, which Facebook announced on March 24.
In a video announcement on Facebook, the global brand revealed a new name for the expanded campus – Sarpy Data Center. Spanning the communities of Springfield and Papillion, the data center campus will occupy 3.6 million square feet, will add approximately $1.5 billion in capital investment into Sarpy County and 300 new operational jobs. Facebook’s purpose goes beyond business, though.
The data center is supported by 100 percent renewable energy and Facebook will provide a $100,000 grant to the Arbor Day Foundation to support tree planting initiatives in Sarpy County this year. The donation brings the total amount of grants and donations provided by Facebook since 2019 to more than $2 million.
Facebook Stays True to Its North Star
Miller Electric Project Manager, Alex Allemang, says Facebook’s commitment to the local community goes beyond even those measures, however, noting the company has made a point to be the owner of choice for contractors to work with.
“I have never worked on a project with a customer quite like this. They treat everybody not like a resource, but an asset,” Allemang says. “They really do live up to their north star, which is to be the data center owner of choice.”
Allemang’s sentiment is echoed in the video Facebook released featuring interviews with leading members of the Sarpy Business Community about what it means to have the company as a neighbor.
“Since they’ve opened I will tell you they have given money to the school districts. They’ve started STEM programs. They use local vendors as much as they can. They’ve donated to the City of Papillion. We built a large community center. Almost without asking, they said what can we do to help? And they gave us a $50,000 donation for technology in that area,” said David Black, Mayor of Papillion, in that video.
Other actions outlined in the video include Facebook’s support of small businesses that struggled during the pandemic and donation, hotspot technology to support internet connectivity and availability for the Springfield Plattview Community School District, and investment in the Rattlesnake Creek Wind Farm in Dixon, Nebraska.
The impact of all that investment ripples out in expanded opportunities across the construction industry in Sarpy County. Speaking in the video, Sara Hansen, Workforce Development Manager for Turner Construction and lead on the Hardhat in Hand program Miller Electric supports, said one worker at its data center sites leads to five additional jobs that are locally supported.
“It means continued growth for the local community. It means continued opportunity and jobs,” she said. “And it means that continued feeling of family and of one team.”
All of those actions make Facebook’s words ring true when it says that it has focused on being a good neighbor to the community its Sarpy Data Center now calls home.
The Future of Facebook and Miller Electric
Miller Electric’s work with Facebook will continue after construction on the data center expansion is complete, as we provide ongoing service to the facility operations team.
“Our goal is to be available and able to respond to issues that might arise after construction is complete,” says Allemang. “Our qualified electricians will be available to respond to any needs the facility operations team may need throughout the day, but the majority of the support we provide will come in the form of planned outages and shut downs and retrofit opportunities.”
Work on the expansion is expected to continue for several years. Throughout construction, Miller Electric has provided over 30 percent of the man hours on the job, which is unique.
“On a typical construction project, electrical trades usually occupy anywhere from 5 to 15 percent of total man hours,” says Allemang. “But data centers are huge electrical facilities with large racks that put off a lot of heat. The electricity required to power, and more importantly, cool, those servers requires multiple redundancies so that if one system or line goes down, another power source kicks in to make sure the data center remains operational 24/7.”
Miller Electric appreciates the hard work, attention to detail and commitment to excellence everyone involved in the project has displayed and continues to demonstrate day in and day out. That appreciation wasn’t lost on Kenneth Roth, Construction Project Manager for Facebook, who praised Miller Electric’s work on the project.
“The Miller Electric team started as one of our key partners in the Omaha area. Their leadership embraced our One Team approach to provide exceptional safety and quality standards,” says Kenneth. “Their extensive knowledge in the data center industry supports Facebook’s ability to build community.”
Miller Electric also appreciates working with partners like Facebook who value the good life we enjoy here in Nebraska.