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Spreading the Message of Circular Economy: How Start Campus is Revolutionizing the Way Data Centers Consume Energy

sustainability start campus

Fabiola Bordino, Head of Sustainability, Communication and Marketing for Start Campus, recently was part of Episode 8 of the Sustainability Superheroes webinar series released on July 26, 2023. In the discussion, Start Campus’s Fabiola Bordino shared the best ways to create a circular economy within the data center development industry, ensuring sustainability efforts can save money and boost profits. The main topics covered were:

  • The top three sustainability practices that save money AND make money
  • Practical strategies for applying circular economy principles to upfront design and future-proofing your business
  • The No. 1 way to build productive relationships with your communities

Bordino begins the discussion by explaining her perspective on how the world has grown dependent on data consumption and, in turn, increased the energy requirements needed to run the data centers that support the new surge in digital demands. She says that operations must move away from fossil fuels into greener energy.

The conversation moves to the critical sustainability practices that can revolutionize data centers. These practices not only contribute to environmental preservation but also lead to significant cost savings. By implementing various energy-efficient technologies, adopting multiple and diverse renewable energy sources, and optimizing resource utilization, Start Campus has mapped out impressive financial gains and provided a model for other data center operators to do the same.

Collaboration is Key

As the Harvard Business Review defines, the circular economy replaces the ‘end-of-life’ concept with reducing, reusing, recycling, and recovering materials to achieve sustainable development. When applied to data centers, this model promotes the reuse and recycling of equipment, extending their lifespan, reducing e-waste, and lowering costs. It also optimizes energy consumption via efficient design and renewable energy sources. Transitioning from a linear to a circular model can thus enhance a data center’s sustainability, operational efficiency, and competitiveness.

Start Campus stands at the forefront of the circular economy movement. In this Sustainability Superheros episode, Bordino explains how this innovative model aims to maximize resource efficiency and minimize waste by keeping materials and products in use for as long as possible. She dives into Start Campus’s groundbreaking SINES Project, which utilizes an ocean water cooling system as part of its renewable energy capabilities.

Bordino explains how Start Campus took this further by examining surrounding businesses to find a synergistic way to work together. Because the SINES Project rejects warmer water, they will be able to supply nearby fish farms with this wastewater, a perfect solution that both minimizes Start Campus’s waste while increasing the profitability of the nearby business. The warmer water is also an ideal candidate for desalination, which converts salt/sea water to fresh water. The desalination process requires warming cold seawater so the water can be distilled. Once desalinated, the water can be used by future neighboring hydrogen plants or repurposed for other industrial businesses — maybe even one day to water crops.

The conversation evolves to discuss the main difference between typical businesses and those using a circular economy, where recycling resources takes place rather than a product or byproduct simply going to waste. “It’s the regeneration of products in an environmentally friendly way,” Bordino explains. “Preserving the land and biodiversity, harnessing renewable energy, and efficient waste management are crucial in building a sustainable future. The circular economy model holds the key to

lower costs and enables the development of communities in an environmentally responsible


Bordino highlights the immense potential of Portugal’s Sines region for establishing robust data processing infrastructures. Start Campus is leveraging this pioneering approach to significantly reduce waste and water consumption, resulting in considerable operational savings in data center operations. They are also reducing costs and aligning their strategy with environmental responsibility by harnessing renewable energy sources. This creates a model that is both financially beneficial and sustainable.

As the data center industry continues its rapid expansion, it becomes imperative to prioritize sustainability and embrace circular economy principles. The interview between host Stephen Marland and Fabiola Bordino sheds light on how circular economy practices can benefit a business’s profits and operations and build a robust collaborative community. To listen to the full episode, visit Sustainability Superheroes.

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