UPTIME TIER RATINGS | The Simple Steps to Obtain them

Last Updated: August 16, 2023, by

There are 3 main phases of certification that can be completed to gain a Tier Rated Data Center, as issued by the Uptime Institute; the first covers the design [TCDD] the second is the Construction [TCCF], and the third, optional one, is the Operation and Maintenance [TCOS] of the Facility.

Below we provide high-level steps for each, that can be used for guidance and reference when trying to understand what is required.

🟩 Tier Certification of Design Documents [TCDD]

To ensure that the documented design meets the tier requirements and expectations before the construction starting, the Uptime Institute has created the ‘Tier Certification of Design Documents’ [TCDD].

This allows the client, consultants, and contractors to ensure that before tendering and deployment of the onsite construction process/work, the design is fully in line with the Uptime requirements.

Step NumberDescription
1A business looks to build an IT system or Data Center Environment.
2Business owner to determine the specific tier rating required to be deployed, designed, constructed and handover.
3Develop Owners Project Requirements [OPR] document.
4Develop Basis of Design [BOD] document.
5Develop design documents/packages with consultants.
6Issue design documents to Uptime Institute consultants for review.
7Uptime Institute consultants review designs in line with the tier certification applied.
8Uptime Institute to issue acceptance, observations or rejection of designs.
9Where any observations are noted, these will be discussed, and updated within the design with the documents being reissued.
10Uptime Institute consultants review revised designs and provide acceptance.
11Uptime awards TCDD Certification.
12The owner/end-user, based upon the certified documentation, and if required, tenders for the delivery of the construction and commissioning phases.
13After certification has been provided, the construction stage can be started.

⚠️ Note that the design certification only lasts for 2 years from approval. This means that the facilities need to start construction within this time frame to be awarded.

🔗 To read more on Data Center Tiers ranging form Tier 1 to Tier 4, see our article: DATA CENTER TIERS | Uptime - The Four Explained

🟩 Tier Certification of a Constructed Facility [TCCF]

To ensure that the facility is built, constructed, and proved in line with the above TCDD design, Uptime provides a certificate for the ‘Constructed Facility’, under the ‘Tier Certification of Constructed Facility’ [TCCF].

Step NumberDescription
1The main/general contractor starts the construction phase.
2Periodically, the Uptime Engineers will arrange site visits to evaluate that the facility is being constructed, installed, and commissioned in line with the TCDD certification. This will identify any issues or discrepancies with the design before the commissioning phase works.
3Once the construction works have been completed, the main/general contractor will move to the testing and commissioning phase.
4The Uptime engineers will attend the site to review and witness some testing and commissioning activities and review paperwork. This ensures that the facility at the equipment and sub system level is operating as per the TCDD certification.
5Once the construction and commissioning phases have been completed, the Uptime Engineers will oversee and validate a 'pull the plug test and integrated systems testing'. This is again, to ensure that the facility operates inline with the TCDD certificate.
6Once the Uptime Engineers are happy with the facility's operation, they will provide the TCCF certificate to the owner/operator.
Data Center Commissioning Checklist [MS Word] & [MS Excel]

Here is our open copy [MS Word] & [MS Excel] of the Data Center Commissioning Checklist, for making life a little easier...

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🔗 We have written an article on the Levels 0 to 7 used when commissioning a Data Center: DATA CENTER | 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 Levels of Commissioning

🟩 Tier Certification of Operational Sustainability [TCOS]

This certification, focusing on the operations of the data center, is not needed to gain a facility’s overall tier rating.

Uptime, however, notes that it a critical part of the process that is usually overlooked. Ensuring the data center is operated and maintained in line with expectations after the design and construction.

This can run along side the construction process.

Step NumberDescription
1Facility Engineers to develop the building's overall operational and maintenance plans,
2Facility Engineers to write and develop detailed documentation that will allow the deployment, management, and documentation of the operational and maintenance plans including:

- Planned/preventative maintenance schedules, processes and programmes,

- Engineer knowledge, skills and qualifications
- Engineer training and development,
- General daily checklists,
- Reporting,
- Emergency operating procedures [EOP],
- Standard operating procedures [SOP],
- Method of procedures [MOP],
- Maintenance contracts,
- Spare parts.
3Issue documentation to Uptime Institute consultants for review,
4Uptime Institute consultants review documents in line with the tier certification applied,
5Uptime Institute to issue acceptance, observations or rejection of proposed plans/procedures,
6Where any observations are noted, these will be discussed and updated within the facilities team,
7Uptime Institute consultants review revised documents and provide acceptance,
8Facilities team deploy onsite plans and procedures etc,
9Uptime conduct a site-specific assessment and benchmarking,
10Once agreed, TCOS certification will be provided.

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