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Achieving sustainability in the Netherlands

Roland VerniersWhen the Netherlands signed up to the Paris agreement to reduce CO2 emissions, it went full speed investing in technology to meet the targets set, writes Roland Verniers in PlaceTech TRENDS Q1 2018.

This is not a strange phenomenon for the Dutch as we are renowned all over the world for seizing the opportunity when it is ‘hot’.

A good example of this is Coen van Oostrom, who is transforming his real estate development company, OVG, into a technology firm. He wants to develop flexible buildings in all major cities across the world, under the brand Edge Technologies. Building on the experience they have with The Edge on the Amsterdam South-Axis – a 40,000 sq m office building packed with technology that measures all aspects of the environment and movements inside and out. It has a BREEAM rating of Outstanding, with an overall score of 98.36%, which makes it one of the ‘greenest’ buildings in the world.

OVG Grand Central Berlin

Edge Grand Central Berlin is due for completion in Q1 2020

As all office buildings in the Netherlands will need to have an EPC C-rating by 2023 and an A-rating by 2030, owners and developers are obliged to allow for additional costs to improve or build new assets, to a far higher sustainability standard than before the Paris accords.

Funders in the Netherlands have picked up the gauntlet to improve their portfolios with greener buildings. Effectively they provide better interest rates on loans and better conditions if you own or develop a building with an A-rating.

In some instances, assets below a C-rating are not eligible to obtain funding anymore. People like Rutger Schuur at ABN-Amro are leading the pack and he started his ‘clean-up’ in the bank’s real estate portfolio a few years ago. Apart from being the director of Commercial Banking Clients at ABN-Amro, Rutger is also the chair of the Dutch Green Building Council.

Tech company GRESB is getting a bigger hold on the property and investment market. Collecting data from companies on CSR and sustainability performance, you can expect them to have collated an immense database on the performance of properties.

It is not for nothing that funders such as ABN-Amro score very highly with GRESB. I suspect GRESB will be a household name with many, if not all investors in property, to measure their assets and their performance compared to their competition.

An example of developing more sustainable building methods is the online platform, Madaster, which collects materials that become available following demolition, such as windows, frames, timber and steel. It logs them in one big library so that users know what materials will become available once an asset reaches its end of life. This can help architects and developers to save money and develop in a more sustainable way by using existing materials.


Madaster displays details of materials and products used in various building layers

We cannot ignore the benefits of storing hard data and using analysis to improve the way we prepare property
Edge Grand Central Berlin is due for completion in Q1 2020 prepare property transactions, develop new buildings, improve existing buildings and thus create a better way of life.

Companies such as Yardi, who provide asset management systems, have developed a large tool kit. Users can pick various apps from the app store, each with its own preferred functionality.

As an industry we are just starting to get familiar with how we use technology to make buildings more efficient and achieve our energy and sustainability objectives. The two elements of technology and sustainability combined, will be a very strong bridge for the near future.

How we build a pyramid by adding finance to the mix is still something we can improve on. Though we are making good strides locally, there is still much to do globally. Luckily the pyramids weren’t built in a day, and we have the blue prints to make this happen in a couple of years’ time.

Roland Verniers is parter at surveying firm Malcolm Hollis in Amsterdam. 

The next PlaceTech Trend Talk is in Amsterdam on 17 July 2018. Click here for more information and booking.

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