The pursuit of sustainability

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The pursuit of sustainability is very important to Witteveen+Bos, and for a very simple reason, states Managing Director Karin Sluis. 'Because we can. We have the expertise and the potential to make a real diference.' Director Stephan van der Biezen adds: 'What's more, I am certain that we are all eager to improve the world around is. Isn't that marvellous?'

For Karin, the ‘materiality analysis’ conducted in 2015 was a real eye-opener. ‘It showed that there is work to be done. We can contribute to many if not most of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. They form a good starting point. We have used them as the basis for our own corporate objectives and sustainable design principles, which provide clear guidelines as we continue to do what we are good at.’

Helping to create a better world is nothing new for Witteveen+Bos. Karin: ‘In the early days of the company, just after the Second World War, our main focus was the reconstruction of the Netherlands. In the 1960s and 1970s, our work was dominated by environmental pollution. The increase in car ownership and traffic congestion created further environmental issues to be tackled in the 1980s and 1990s. Then came the United Nations Millennium Goals, and more recently the Sustainable Development Goals. Everything involves the pursuit of sustainability, albeit with a slightly different focus. For Witteveen+Bos, the main thing is to remain willing and able to play our part in addressing current societal issues.’

Stephan: ‘I have noticed that we are very good at defining what the rather broad term ‘sustainability’ actually entails. We delve to the heart of matters, plan targeted action, and ensure that the results are measurable. The renovation of the Leeuwenbrug office building in Deventer is a good example. The building is in a perfect location, very close to the station, but until recently it was anything but ‘future-proof’. We realised that the time for a thorough renovation had come. I am very proud of what we have achieved together. The building is now officially classified as ‘Almost Climate Neutral’, an accolade generally reserved for newbuild rather than renovation projects. Throughout the planning and implementation of this project, we were able to apply our talents to the full.’

Karin: ‘The result is a building that demonstrates what we stand for. Practise what you preach! It is the best possible showcase for our sustainability credentials and our expertise in future-proofing existing office buildings. The knowledge we have gained during this project will prove of great value to our clients. Of course, the people who actually work in the building will also benefit. It will enable everyone to work as a close-knit team as they offer our clients the best possible advice. In short, the project brings together all of our key objectives. The Leeuwenbrug building has become a sort of ‘living lab’ and the starting point for further consultancy expertise in essential areas such as circular construction and the energy transition. We are ready to play our part!’