American Express’s “Project Green” Data Center

Winston-Salem Journal reports on American Express’s latest Data Center in NC - “Project Green” where details are hard to discover about the data center.

American Express making plans to hide in plain sight

By Richard M. Barron


Published: September 7, 2010


American Express has shrouded its major data-center project in secrecy from the moment that economic developers said in May that Guilford County had landed the $600 million project.

The company has declined requests to comment about the center it plans to build on two sites near Interstate 40 at Rock Creek Dairy Road. Many people working with the company in business or government relationships are not returning calls or taking great pains not to let much information slip out.

The reason becomes clear when you get inside the philosophy of the data industry.

"Do not make public any information about your operations," according to a report by SANS Institute, a data-center security consultant, issued not long after the Sept. 11 attacks.

"This includes but is not limited to location, staff, design or security features, type of equipment, etc. The smallest pieces of information can be used to compromise security."

But, given the facility is $600 million and 510,000 square feet it is kind of ridiculous to think people won’t know where the site is.

For all its secrecy, however, American Express is building its data center in a remarkably public place: Rock Creek Center, the Triad's largest business park with 1,400 acres.

The park is just south of Interstate 40/85, one of the state's busiest sections of road. The data center will sit south of Franz Warner Parkway, which runs through the park, and just north of a housing development with 375 lots.

The company plans to hide in plain sight.

The site will by 75 % vacant.

After it builds its data center and two large power substations, American Express will leave 75 percent of its land essentially vacant.

As typical the cost of the site is 1% of the cost of the building.

American Express paid $450,000 for that site and $5.62 million for the 107.8 acres it bought in Rock Creek Center.

American Express has two parcels and one may be a back-up data center.

Earlier this month, the Greensboro City Council unanimously approved the annexation and zoning for a site on the north side of Interstate 85 that is expected to be used as a backup data center. The annexation will allow city water and sewer to be extended to the 145 acres. The zoning change will allow a business park to be built on agriculture land.