Sustainable entrepreneurship: how Combell reduces its ecological footprint

As a sustainable company, Combell wants to contribute to a better environment. Consuming less energy, reducing plastic waste, recycling more products... it is all part of our programme. Find out what we do to reduce our ecological footprint to a sustainable level.

Combell chooses data centres that only use green energy

Data centres with green energyA hosting provider like Combell is indirectly responsible for a fairly large amount of energy consumption. Hundreds of physical servers – on which thousands of cloud servers and virtual machines run – hosting our customers' applications and websites are housed in data centres. A good 20% of the servers housed in Belgium's two largest data centres are reserved for Combell. And they have to keep running, which requires a lot of energy.

Nevertheless, we do everything in our power to keep our ecological footprint as small as possible. For example, we deliberately choose to collaborate only with data centres that also care about a clean environment and efficient energy consumption. Combell mainly hosts its customers in two large data centres in Belgium. The LCL data centre in Diegem only uses energy supplied by Nuon, which is 100% generated from sustainable and inexhaustible energy sources, such as wind and small-scale hydroelectric power. As for the Interxion data centre in Zaventem, it has also been using 100% green energy for more than a decade.


Saving energy through large and small initiatives

The data centres are also designed to be as energy-efficient as possible. The air is cooled using fresh air from outside as much as possible – after all, outside temperatures are generally relatively low in Belgium. Only when the outside temperature gets too high do the data centres automatically switch on the cooling system.

Our data centres also use a hot/cold aisle layout. This consists of rows of server racks that are arranged in pairs, with a roof on top, thus creating separate aisles, and limiting the airflow between the cold and hot zones. As a result, the cooled air is used optimally for cooling the hardware, and less energy is lost for this cooling.

Another smart idea: at Interxion, an alarm is triggered when a door is not closed in time, thus minimising the loss of cooled air. And at LCL, the 700 m² green roof provides insulation and makes it possible to reuse rainwater.

No wonder that several of our data centres have won numerous awards in the field of energy saving. They are also active contributing members of the 'Green Grid', and one of our data centres is even a member of the European Commission Joint Research Centre on Sustainability. Our data centres are also ISO-14001 certified, which means that they comply with the Environmental Management System.


Good habits in the workplace: every little helps

Sustainability - also in the officeBesides the data centres, Combell's own premises also have an impact on the environment. The energy consumption in our own offices is only a fraction of that of the data centres. So, the efforts we can make here to save energy and create an eco-friendly environment are modest. But all great things have small beginnings, right?

This is why the lighting throughout the building was replaced by LED lamps. Such lamps are 90% more efficient than incandescent lamps and consume 85% less power than halogen lamps.

Combell also provides fresh water that is good for the health of its employees. For this purpose, the company stopped using plastic bottles, which create an enormous heap of plastic waste, and started using glass bottles, which can be easily recycled. Last year, however, we decided to go one step further: we no longer use bottles, but Aqualex devices that are connected to the mains water supply. This is a minor improvement, but if applied more widely, it would have an enormous impact.

Studies show that emissions from the production of bottled water are 300 times higher than those from tap water. In Europe, bottled water is responsible for 17.6 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. Our country represents 40,000 tonnes per year – the equivalent of the emissions of 14,000 cars driving 15,000 kilometres in a year.

Another measure with which Combell hopes to make a difference: hardware is not thrown away, but donated to the Thomas More institute, whose students in Electronics-ICT (a bachelor course) can use the equipment in their work. And via e-invoicing, we also try to reduce the amount of paper we use and to save trees!

And of course, all the waste from our offices is neatly sorted – Combell regularly runs campaigns to promote recycling, and also makes the cleaning teams aware of this issue.


Our car fleet goes green too

Our car fleet goes green tooEncouraging people to use public transport is not easy, as Combell's offices are located in an area that is difficult to reach by train, bus or tram.

In spite of this, some of our collaborators come to work by bike. And in order to stimulate this even more, Combell has been offering bicycle leasing to every employee since the beginning of this year – an attractive option that offers many health benefits!

Combell also continues to make its car fleet more environmentally friendly. Besides limiting CO2 emissions, the company is currently offering hybrid cars and is also looking into the possibility of offering electric cars.

As you can see, Combell is trying to contribute to a better environment through both large and small initiatives. But there is always room for improvement. Combell keeps a close eye on the latest developments and adopts new ideas as soon as possible in order to contribute to a better living environment!

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