When Nationwide Mutual Insurance breaks ground on its data center later this year, the company also will break ground on a new way of thinking.

When Nationwide Mutual Insurance breaks ground on its data center later this year, the company also will break ground on a new way of thinking.

Nationwide's proposed 125,000-square-foot facility in the research and information district will be the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified data center in the village and will feature a variety of energy-saving technologies.

Rod Brown, director of the company's mission critical group that oversees its data centers around the country, said Nationwide is considering geothermal heating in the office portion of the building for the estimated 40 employees it will accommodate. The rest of the building will house servers and computers.

"We hope to use energy-efficient equipment and use water-side economizers and air-side economizers," Brown said. "That means we would be able to use the cool conditions of this area to help cool the data portion."

Because the computers and servers give off a lot of heat, Brown said the facility would use that energy to heat the office space.

He said the company had looked at solar and wind energy but decided the building would not be a good candidate for the technologies.

"We are considering geothermal for our office portion of our building, but solar and wind are not good candidates to power a building of this size without having a tremendous impact on the environment," Brown said.

Brown said the facility is part of Nationwide's consolidation plan. Soon after the new data center is completed, the company plans to consolidate its 28 data centers into two, with one in New Albany and another in a yet-to-be determined location.

"It provides benefits for us from a resiliency perspective," Brown said. "It provides cost savings to fewer operations throughout the company."

He said an increase in virtual operations has helped the company to implement its plan.

"We absolutely want to be as energy efficient and as 'green' as possible while balancing the need for Nationwide to have a facility that is low-risk and able to provide comparable services," Brown said. "That is a fine line to balance to make sure we are able to serve our customers."

He said New Albany was the best choice for the innovative building.

"We spent a great deal of time - more than a year - looking for the right place to build this building, and New Albany stood out to us for a number of reasons," he said.

Brown sand the infrastructure the village provided also helped make Nationwide's decision easier.

"The electrical infrastructure and the telecommunication infrastructure improves the reliability," he said. "What is most important to us is reliability - to make sure we are up and running."

Nationwide officials still are in the engineering phase of the process and have not officially announced when they would break ground. Village officials said it would be by the end of the year.

The company has purchased 45 acres in the research and information district next to the PharmaForce building. PharmaForce also plans to break ground at its site in the coming months.

The Nationwide data center is estimated to generate more than $470,000 in taxes, with $300,000 going to the New Albany-Plain Local School District.