Interxion: Committed to Net Zero data centres by 2030

Interxion: Committed to Net Zero data centres by 2030

Lex Coors, Chief Data Centre Technology and Development Officer discusses the companies commitment to its sustainability strategy

As the interconnection hub for the world’s leading businesses, Interxion provides its clients with sustainable data centres and the right connectivity to interconnect, transact and grow businesses. The company has more than 700 connectivity providers in over 290 data centres across more than 24 countries.

With its significant global footprint, Interxion’s clients can expand their reach geographically. This is because the company’s services provide clients with the proximity needed for latency-sensitive applications, and offers interconnection on a global scale.

Founded in 1998, the company has changed massively over the years and has had to adapt to the changing technological landscape. Lex Coors, Interxion’s Chief Data Centre Technology and Development Officer and Visiting Professor at the University of East London, has been with the company since its infancy in 1999.

Having witnessed first-hand the immense evolution of Interxion, Coors explained how it has changed over the years, he said: “Interxion started by working in minute trading. We then moved into data centres, where we collected as many carriers together with the internet exchanges, creating the first communities of interest with enterprise customers. Then when cloud technologies came, we incorporated those into our operations too.”

Now Interxion can provide its customers with a hybrid cloud solution. These cloud technologies have also become increasingly significant with the emergence of the global remote workforce, who are more reliant on the cloud to access information remotely. The push towards these technologies is increasing as more companies utilise cloud software services to secure and back up their IT infrastructure.

“We’ve changed significantly over the years. Now we embrace a lot of digital technologies to support our operations and have incorporated them into our platforms. We deal with medium-sized data and once we collect this data, the company and our algorithms can learn from that to help us optimise our operations. Technology has definitely changed the way we measure data, as the algorithms now do it for us,” Coors added.

This evolution lends itself to Interxion’s commitment to its customers. The company has needed to adapt as its customers’ needs have changed, as Coors explained: “We have a lot of enterprise customers who require the efficiencies of the colocation services we offer. With the introduction of cloud technologies, we now work together with the large cloud players and some of their most critical applications are in our data centres. This is because we represent the core of all the networks coming together.”

Adding to this, the Chief Data Centre Technology and Development Officer explained that as Interxion’s customers have grown and expanded, so has the number of data centres the company has to offer.


Building sustainable data centres for the future 

The data centre provider is committed to its sustainability targets and in his role, Coors works to ensure that all of Interxion’s colocation services have a minimal impact on the environment. 

Explaining why sustainability is so important to the company, Coors said it is so important, he regards it “as a social corporate responsibility.”

To highlight how the company is supporting the global efforts to fight climate change, Coors outlined the work Interxion has been doing to reduce its carbon emission:  “We started looking into our sustainability strategy over seven years ago. Initially, we started looking at energy efficiency in 2009 and even before that, we called it our energy overhead. Now, we have been able to say that for a few years, 100% of our data centres are running on sustainable energy.”

Interxion has pioneered energy-saving designs within its data centres to ensure they run on sustainable energy. The company has harnessed everything from arctic winds, underground aquifers and even the Baltic Sea in order to reduce its carbon footprint.

Working with big players in the technology scene has been crucial in supporting Interxion, as it looked to add a sustainability focus to its operations. Coors explained that, despite Trump’s dismissal of sustainability initiatives in the United States, big customers such as Microsoft, AWS, Google and Facebook still maintained their commitment to their own sustainable targets. As a result, these big clients still expected Interxion to provide energy-efficient data centres. 


Interxion’s own sustainable ambitions

Although Interxion is keen to support its clients’ sustainability targets by providing them with data centres run on renewable energy, the company is ambitious with its own targets. Outlining the company’s ambitions, Coors said: “Our corporate target is a 68% reduction in scope one and reducing to two emissions by 2030. Scope one is the direct emissions, such as diesel usage; and scope two is the indirect emissions..”

He continued: “I think that these targets are so ambitious because we have close to 300-plus data centres around the globe. We’re committed to this programme and we're driving year-on-year programmes to achieve this.”

Supporting these ambitions is Interxion’s internal function, The Energy Strategy Group. This group has participants from senior management and is dedicated to developing, implementing and governing the overall energy strategies; including:

  • Intelligent energy buying
  • Continually improving Interxion’s energy efficiency and Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE)
  • Establishing the value of energy as a core service to its customers.


Collaborating with strategic partners 

To ensure the success of reducing its ‘scope one’ emissions, Interxion looks to its partners to help provide sustainable products and services to improve its operations. With Mitsubishi, Interxion is looking at different ways to reduce the amount of diesel the company uses in its day-to-day operations.

As a significant polluter, Interxion is keen to reduce its diesel use and as a result, reduce its scope one emissions. The company continues to work hard on this with Mitsubishi and its other partners, Schneider and Mercury.

Understanding the importance of partner collaboration is crucial to ensuring the success of Interxion’s sustainable ambitions, as Coors explained: “It’s key that our partners’ sustainability targets align with our own. We have also realised that our partners can’t support our sustainability targets all by themselves, so they need the operators of the data centre to explain the issue we're trying to solve.”

“Our partners listen to what the problem is and then we talk about it, to see if there's a common interest,  before we start working on the solution,” he added.


Interxion’s alignment with the European Commission

Keen to support the global efforts against climate change, Interxion also works closely with other data centre providers and cloud providers within the Climate-Neutral Data Centre Pact. This collaborative effort between these providers came after the European Commission announced that data centres should be climate neutral by 2030.

This Pact was set up as Interxion was keen that players in the data centre industry would meet these collective goals, ensuring the targets would be drafted by those with knowledge of the industry itself. Coors himself is on the board of directors with five other key players in the European data centre industry.

Expanding on the aims of the association, Coors said: “ We spoke about how to become a more sustainable industry and realised we’re all already on the road to reaching these targets set by the European Commission. We formed the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact and defined five pillars to achieve carbon neutrality.”

“The first pillar is clean energy. So by 2025, 75% of all data centres shall be running on clean energy and by 2030, 100% of them will be. Then we need to look at energy efficiency to make sure the data centres are efficient, this is pillar number two. The third pillar looks into reusing energy. We also have the circular economy as the fourth pillar and finally, we look at water usage. These five pillars form the base of the association,” he outlined.

Approved by the European Commission’s Executive Vice President Frans Timmerman, the association sets up its own regulatory framework and is run without external legislation. Embraced by Interxion, the association is a collaborative space that sets ambitious but achievable sustainable goals for data centre providers. 

Including most of the continent's key players, the current signatories of the pact represent 90% of the industry in Europe. Just this year, the pact presented its first policy paper to the European Commission following its request. The policy paper includes a comprehensive set of 19 recommendations. These recommendations cover public procurement regulations from the procurement and development of renewable energies that can be used by the cloud and data centre industry, to supporting the development of circular water and energy management, and recycling in the ICT sector.

A signatory himself, Timmerman commented on the pact the day it was created, he said: “Citizens across Europe are using ever more technology to go about their daily lives and they want this technology to help secure a sustainable future for all. Today’s pledge - from important parts of the data industry - constitutes a promise to society and offers a welcome first step towards achieving our common ambitions for a smart and sustainable future.”

Signatories of the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact have agreed to implement measurable energy efficiency targets, purchase 100% carbon-free energy, prioritise water conservation, reuse and repair servers, and look for ways to recycle heat. This pledge is particularly significant when considering findings from the International Energy Agency. It found that data centres consume approximately 200 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity, or nearly 1% of global electricity demand, contributing to 0.3% of all global CO2 emissions.

Both Interxion and Coors, along with the Climate Neutral Data Centre Pact, recognise the importance of transforming the industry to reduce the damaging effects it can have on the climate. Expanding on this, Coors said: “We are passionate about sustainability because you cannot design a data centre well without this understanding. If you do not understand sustainability well, you can build a data centre, but it will not meet the targets for the future. That's why this is so important for us.”

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