CyrusOne News and Blog

SPARK competition winners offer innovative solutions for future data centers

October 6, 2022

What if data centers could reuse the heat they generate to support adjacent greenhouses and grow food or to create electricity to power the local community? These were just some of the potential future sustainability solutions university students came up with at the SPARK competition in New York.

On Sept. 23, CyrusOne, Danish global engineering, architecture and consultancy company Ramboll and the NYU Tandon School of Engineering partnered on the one-day event that connected the talented students with Ramboll’s leading partners, clients and communities to develop solutions to industry challenges.

CyrusOne and Ramboll brought in subject matter experts and thought leaders in biodiversity, data centers and sustainability to participate and work with the students, who competed by developing ideas to support and improve sustainability and biodiversity for future data centers.

CyrusOne’s Operations Business Director Dan Moore; Senior Solutions Engineer Scott Volk; and Vice President of Environmental Health, Safety, and Sustainability Kyle Myers served as subject matter experts as each of the six teams created solutions for our problem statement that focused on enhancing biodiversity throughout CyrusOne’s portfolio.

During the competition, students worked in groups of five with the subject matter experts and company representatives to come up with the best design solution for best-in-class energy efficiencies, evaluation of building materials and biodiversity impact. Each team prepared a five-minute presentation that included a recommendation, general cost, benefit analysis and implementation strategy. The judges, including Moore and Volk, evaluated each team’s presentation through the originality of the innovation and impact, as well as its implementation and feasibility.

First place went to Team 1, which included Joanna Ibrahim, Matthew Maung, Nikita Pola and Aaron Yang. The first-, second- and third-place teams all won prize money, with the winners submitting some amazing solutions:

  • Reuse the heat generated in the data center to support adjacent greenhouses to grow food for the local community
  • Use green façade to enhance the building appearance, improve biodiversity and provide additional building insulation
  • Capture rainwater for site use including greenhouses and retention ponds
  • Reuse the heat generated in the data center to create electricity, using a thermal electric generator, to be used within the facility or provided/sold to the local community
  • Use more recycled content in normal construction materials
  • Put grey-water discharge to use for landscaping/greenhouses
  • Use biomimicry, the imitation of the elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex problems, with landscaping and grow more threatened plant species onsite


CyrusOne thanks all SPARK competition participants for their effort and creativity in coming up with great ideas for better future data centers.

For more on our sustainability efforts, please read our 2022 Sustainability Report here.