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The City Journals

Aligned Energy revitalizes empty semiconductor building

Feb 07, 2019 02:42PM ● By Erin Dixon

Aligned Energy purchased the former Fairchild Semiconductor building on 3333 West 9000 South and has converted it to a data center. (courtesy/West Jordan City)

By Erin Dixon | [email protected]

Aligned Energy purchased the former Fairchild Semiconductor building (3333 West 9000 South) in March 2018. It has since converted it into a datacenter, and PayPal is soon to be its newest tenant. 

PayPal will bring about 20 employees to the location, and other companies will occupy the building in the near future.

Don McDaniel, PayPal project lead stated in a press release, “PayPal is excited to work with the city of West Jordan and other governing bodies to develop a mutually beneficial data center project in Salt Lake County[.]

“PayPal aims to have a positive impact in every community where we have a presence, and West Jordan is no different.”

Aligned Energy plans to use 100 percent renewable energy by 2021. 

Most data centers take massive amounts of energy and water to not only power their servers but to cool them. As technology progresses, the size of a microchip decreases, but the heat generated by many tiny microchips together increases. Cooling the machines is necessary to keep them running, and that cooling can take massive amounts of energy. Aligned Energy officials say they have a unique cooling system that allows them to use 85 percent less water and 80 percent less energy than a traditional data center. 

Phill Lawson-Shanks, Aligned Energy’s chief development officer, explained why Utah was an important location for their newest data center. 

“One of the unique things about Utah is that it was one of the last points of the transatlantic rail system that came together,” Lawson-Shanks said. “They hammered in the last golden spike in Salt Lake itself. Because of those railway lines, you get rights of way. About a year later, you got the telegraph system last connection there between the east and west coast.” 

Subsequently, the easiest routes for telephone and then internet were built along those same lines. This allows for a strong internet connectivity, which is exactly what a datacenter requires. 

There are other traits about Salt Lake that make it a strategic location for internet and connectivity. 

“Utah, Provo, Salt Lake—it’s just a phenomenal location for the internet providers because of power, because of the skilled workforce in the area and the tax credits, but primarily because of internet access and the climate,” Lawson-Shanks said. 

PayPal and other tenants that will be filling in the building in the next six months. There is still a third of the building that has available data space for more tenants in the future.