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Construction Complete on New SSA National Support Center in Urbana, MD

SSA National Support Center in Urbana, MD

The Social Security Administration (SSA) held a ceremonial ribbon cutting on September 29, to celebrate the construction completion of their National Support Center (NSC) in Urbana, MD. The new 300,000 square foot facility will serve as SSA’s primary data center, providing computer operations essential to prompt and accurate benefits payments to Americans.

Guest speakers for the event included Acting Commissioner of Social Security Carolyn W. Colvin, GSA PBS Commissioner Norman Dong, and Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Sara Manzano-Diaz.   

“President Obama understands that many seniors rely on Social Security, and believes that every one of them should be able to retire with dignity,” said GSA’s Sara Manzano-Diaz in her remarks during the ceremony. “This new data center will help the President and the nation to meet current and future Social Security goals and will allow SSA to continue to provide vital economic protection to millions of Americans.”

GSA collaborated closely with SSA and contracting partners to design and construct the state-of-the-art NSC, which replaces the existing National Computer Center, located at the SSA headquarters campus in Woodlawn, MD.  

Funded through the 2009 Recovery Act, the data center project is an important example of GSA’s commitment to leading with innovation. The project team embraced the initiatives of the GSA Design Excellence Program to design-build an aesthetically superior building that achieves engineering excellence while supporting SSA’s mission-critical operations in a rapidly changing data center industry.

The project team utilized advanced Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology–BIM generates a digital representation of the physical and functional features of a facility–throughout design and construction of the data center. BIM helped the team properly sequence activities during construction, eliminating project delays. It was also essential during design of the data center’s extensive underground conduit system, prefabricated off site, which expedited installation, improved safety, and enhanced quality.

Completion of the SSA NSC demonstrates GSA’s pledge to use its government-wide influence to reduce the environmental impact of the federal government. Traditionally, data centers rank among the largest power users in modern facilities, consuming a significant amount of energy through the operation of IT equipment.  

The project team committed to aggressive goals for energy performance, ultimately achieving 30% energy savings compared to a typical data center. SSA NSC achieves energy efficiency through advanced building control systems, climatically responsive layouts, waste reduction principles, and natural day-lighting.  

Additional sustainable design elements include:

  • A flexible space design implemented in the main computer room which allows for seamless equipment installation when new technology is introduced.  The design separates hot air return from the cold air distribution, saving energy as well as utilizing hot air return to heat the remainder of the facility.
  • A 6-acre photovoltaic solar panel field that provides renewable electrical power to the entire campus, saving more than $150,000 per year in energy costs.
  • Aggressive water conservation efforts, including 190,000 gallons of rainwater storage for use in irrigation and cooling towers.
  • Site design and construction that incorporated sustainable products and diverted over 90% of debris from landfills with a thorough construction waste management plan.

By successfully accomplishing these goals, the SSA NSC is on track for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold certification for new construction from the U.S. Green Building Council. The certification would make it the first LEED Gold certified data center constructed by GSA.

“We are excited about our new energy-efficient, modern, LEED Gold certified National Data Center, we have built in partnership with GSA, city, state and federal officials in Frederick County, MD, that will meet our current and future needs,” stated Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security. “This modern and secure 300,000 square foot facility will allow Social Security employees to continue to maintain demographic, wage, and benefit information for all American citizens, providing for prompt and accurate benefits payments.”

Completion of the SSA National Support Center is a testament to the strong partnership between GSA, SSA, and the private sector. The new data center highlights GSA’s mission to deliver the best value in real estate, acquisition, and technology services to government and the American people.


This article is part of the Fall 2014 issue of the FOCUS newsletter. Please visit the Focus Newsletter page to read our newsletter. To subscribe to FOCUS, complete the online subscription form.

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