Objective 3: Sustainable business operations

Witteveen+Bos also creates value through sustainable business operations. We strive to reduce our environmental impact and promote CO2 reduction throughout the chain. Improvements in corporate processeses contribute to sustainable business operations too.

Company premises, working at the office, and hybrid working

In order to do our job well, we collaborate with others, come together with colleagues, partners and clients, share knowledge and hold meetings. At the office, there are colleagues and good facilities and you can feel at home. Corona, however, forced us to work in a very different way, interacting for the most part digitally and almost never attending an office. Over the past two years, we have experienced both the positive and negative aspects of working from home.

Ultimately, we have chosen to also opt for hybrid working post-corona. Combining work at the office, at a client’s premises, at a project location or from home contributes to a healthy work-life balance for our employees and to the flexible deployment of our talents, and it supports employees in optimally developing themselves and providing maximum value to clients.

ICT and digitalisation

In 2021, we paid a lot of attention to ICT security, taking further steps for ISO 27001 and various internal and external risk inventories and evaluations. We also implemented a document management system (DMS) for project data. This promotes digital collaboration with clients and partners and also helps us in working from home. At our offices, more meeting rooms have been equipped with video conference equipment, which is important for hybrid working.

In 2021, various business processes were further digitalised, including requests for rental and project cars and the process surrounding salary review. Together with the secretariats, additional steps were taken in automating and digitalising their work, too. We also further developed our digital corporate style.

Innovative collaboration

In Utrecht, we opened a new office in 2021 close to the central station. The green and sustainable office in Utrecht is spacious, with plenty of room to meet and the choice of various types of workspaces. Our second pop-up office was opened on the Groningen Campus as part of a strategic collaboration with EnTranCe on the energy transition. This allows Witteveen+Bos employees, students, clients and partners to meet and collaborate. In April 2021, our office in Panama was officially opened. From that front office, Witteveen+Bos has strengthened its local position in delta and water technology and work has also commenced on projects for resilient cities.

2021 focal point: Health and safety

With the Health and Safety focal point, we are contributing to a safer construction world, increasing our safety awareness and enhancing the pleasant work environment that we want to offer as a company. As a consultancy and engineering firm, we have a responsibility within the chain. Our work has impact. We are increasing the level of safety by including it in our designs and in project consultancy and management. How is safety currently considered, for example, in a planning study or site visit?

In 2021, we took steps in this direction by strengthening our internal safety structures and by promoting a culture of safety. Our internal safety structures have been strengthened by plans and protocols, such as a uniform worldwide online QHSE reporting form. This also strengthened the learning capacity and awareness within the organisation. In 2021, we paid extra attention to psychological safety:  ‘Can we be who we really are? And what is needed in projects, meetings and internal communication to ensure that we (dare to) say what we think?’ This form of safety is very important to us, as it is a prerequisite for talent development, inclusivity and engagement.

Witteveen+Bos provided input for a handbook on safety in tenders produced by the GCVB (Governance Code Veiligheid in de Bouw) which extends the scope of safety in tenders to include conditioning studies and inspections. This contributes directly to health and safety in the construction chain.

Safety and Culture ladder (SCL)

We are committed to safety. In March 2021, all Dutch PMCs and departments were audited for the SCL and were placed at level 3. Our employees are aware of the safety rules and consider them important. Some PMCs have even been certified for step 4, which concerns being proactive and showing initiative. They think, for example, about how they can contribute to health and safety. Witteveen+Bos aims to be a leader in the consulting chains in which we operate and to provide a safe and healthy work environment where everyone can be themselves and develop their talents. Our ambition, therefore, is to achieve step 4 for all Dutch PMCs and departments by 2023.


In 2021, Witteveen+Bos presented two awards: the twentieth and final edition of the Art+Technology Award and the first edition of the Witteveen+Bos Sustainable Design Principles Thesis Prize.

CO2 Performance Ladder and carbon footprint

We are proud that, in 2021, we once again renewed our CO2-Aware certificate at level 5 on the CO2 Performance Ladder. All measures taken in 2021 to reduce carbon emissions are described in a separately published ‘footprint’. In 2021, we achieved a reduction of 82 % relative to 2007. Total carbon emissions fell by 2,573 tonnes while staff size increased by 601 FTE employees.

In order to provide insight into how much CO2 we produce as a company, we calculate our carbon footprint every year. In 2021, the footprint was again calculated using conversion factors in line with the values on co2emissiefactoren.nl. The footprint per FTE employee relates to Witteveen+Bos employees worldwide. It consists of three elements: premises, (car) mobility and air travel. We are striving for reduction in all three areas. The corona measures, in particular, continue to cause a reduction in carbon emissions. The spread of the coronavirus and the associated protective measures had a major impact on business operations in 2021. Since the outbreak of the virus, the vast majority of employees have worked (partly) from home, resulting in much less commuting and business travel.

Two years ago, in order to involve employees more and make them more aware of their potential impact on CO2 reduction and materials use in projects, the CO2 Flywheel Subsidy was launched. Five employee initiatives have since made use of it, including the Jurong Island Circularity Scan.

In 2021, in order to gain more insight into the carbon emissions resulting from our business operations, we worked on creating a CO2 dashboard which allows managers to monitor the categories which impact on carbon emissions, such as mobility. Where possible, we make agreements with our suppliers and service providers (such as catering, cleaning) to work in a CO2-conscious manner and to reduce emissions wherever possible. In 2021, we worked on policies aimed at rolling out and implementing this approach more widely in 2022.

Explanation of scopes footprint

The visual describes three scopes, in line with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. The scopes distinguish between that which Witteveen+Bos is directly and indirectly responsible for. Scope 1 concerns all direct emissions. These come from ‘our own chimney’. Scope 2 concerns all indirect emissions which result from energy consumption within the organisation. These emissions are produced by ‘someone else’s chimney’. Scope 3 concerns all emissions produced by activities which Witteveen+Bos has no influence on, but which can be connected to our activities.

View the slides below to see how Witteveen+Bos performed in 2021.