How did you get into sustainable construction?
“It started with my love for design and technology. I studied HBO (higher vocational education) Engineering and subsequently completed the master Building Technology at the TU Eindhoven. That study strongly steered towards sustainability. Here it quickly became clear to me that you can make a great difference by fully incorporating sustainability at the beginning of a project.
The day I graduated I ran into Heijmans at a company day. Soon after, they offered me this position at Infra. In my role I connect people set on sustainable construction both within as well as outside of Heijmans. In that sense, I hardly work on the hard technology side of it myself. I love working with people who know a lot about a certain topic and the fact that I can add sustainability to the mix.”
Then you are probably also excited about circular construction?
“Circular construction is mainly about the system of material and energy use. And chain cooperation: closing the loop close to your project by cooperating with local parties. A beautiful and complex task, which we still need to learn a lot about. A practical example by Heijmans is the Schiphol-Noord bus station, which we built using materials of a British airplane hangar dating from the Second World War. I try to gather knowledge and experiences from such a project, which I then fine-tune and safeguard for subsequent tenders.
“Measuring circularity is another fun task. There is already a method at hand to create insight into the environmental impact of a building project. However, it does not include circularity. How often can you use a material? What is its lifespan? Can you easily undo connections?
Just recently, the Platform CB (Circular Building) ’23 was launched. Heijmans has joined this platform together with other building companies, clients and knowledge institutions in order to work out these kinds of issues.”
How does the industry stimulate circular construction?
“There are all sorts of agreements and programmes parties can commit to. As a country we are bound to the Paris Climate Agreement. Heijmans also signed the National Raw Materials Agreement, that was recently launched as part of the nationwide programme Nederland Circulair (Netherlands Circular) in 2050. The aim of the agreement is that by 2030 fifty percent of all used materials will be reused materials. By 2050 this will be a hundred percent. In order to achieve this, all government projects will be 100 percent circular as of 2023.
“On top of that, Heijmans signed the Green Deal Duurzaam (sustainable) GWW 2.0 at the beginning of 2017, along with all the big clients, consulting firms and contractors. Doing so, we pledge to incorporate sustainability into all our projects by 2020.”
“We are seizing opportunities to proactively add sustainability to our assignments”
What circular projects Heijmans is working on?
“For instance, the Solar Highways which we are standing at now: a noise barrier with solar cells. Another beautiful project is the Beatrix lock, for which we developed a materials passport together with the Dutch Department of Public Works and Water Management. You use such a passport to document which materials an object contains, including data such as lifespan, composition, bearing capacity, et cetera. This way you will know exactly what to expect if you want to reuse these materials later on.”