Removing hurdles in sustainability efforts – An interview with Duurzaam Gebouwd

Before Article

In an interview with Duurzaam Gebouwd [Sustainably Built], Bram Adema explains how he will be focussing on three things with CFP Green Buildings this year:

  • Making energy transition risk-free;
  • Concretising the circular economy;
  • Enticing private home owners to become sustainable.

You want to make circular ‘concrete’. What do you mean by that?

‘The biggest misunderstanding is that we think that rubbish is the greatest source of base materials to be included in a circular system. The most important issue, however, is that we have to stop extracting base materials from the earth. In addition, if we set up a database now and record which materials are used in construction, we are actually recording what may, in the future, become available as base materials. This does not solve the problem of current base material use. CFP’s view is that we, as a society, should only use renewable base materials and use that which we already have for as long as possible. This is particularly important for buildings, because they can last tens or hundreds of years if we can redevelop them sustainably. By making buildings flexible in terms of lay-out, their useful life can be doubled, for example. This saves 100 per cent on base materials, and that is also the big difference between buildings and other products.’

Bram talking to Tom de Hoog.
Bram Adema talking to Tom de Hoog. Photo: Robert Tjalondo

Aren’t many buildings unsuitable for upgrading?

‘That is about 20 per cent, I think, and they would have to be demolished. We are focussing on the 80 per cent that perhaps now perform poorly in terms of energy or that do not meet the current requirements. We want to help building owners to give their property a longer service life. This can be done by maintaining these buildings without new base materials. I believe that is also circular. In addition, a circular building does not use fossil fuels, and its quality is realised without new base materials. The ideal would be something like Loevensteijn Castle or a canal house that lasts for centuries.’

These are examples of buildings that are problematic in terms of energy…

‘And yet it is possible. If you spend the maintenance budget on sustainability efforts over a long period, then these buildings will also become energy neutral sooner or later.’

The biggest misunderstanding is that we think that rubbish is the greatest source of base materials.

– Bram Adema, CFP Green Buildings

You recently stated that you believe the Netherlands has 17 million sustainability managers. Can you elaborate?

‘For me, it’s about the fact that, in our country, we use 7 million houses and 1 million buildings. In some way or another, we all share in decision-making, as users, tenants or owners. In order to make all these buildings sustainable, we have to try to convince millions of people and we will never be able to do that. Suppose that everyone could make their own decisions to become sustainable, without having to make sacrifices, and that it’s easy as well. Then we would have 17 million people who were ready to get to work. That is why we at CFP, in collaboration with our partners, want to remove hurdles and offer people the guarantee of “no regret” measures.’

How will CFP go about achieving this?

‘We are building a kind of ecosystem in which the bank, the contractor, and property management ensure that you personally are able to take these measures without risk. And without it being at the expense of your everyday life. Keep in mind that you now cannot go to a bank to ask for small amounts that you want to invest. We want to offer this, and make it just as simple as getting money from a cash machine. We want to ensure that electricity companies will guarantee that the technical investment that you are about to make is sustainable and will yield guaranteed savings. We want to ensure that property companies and contractors help you out as if they were advisers. In fact, we want to help everyone become sustainable without risks.’

In Duurzaam Gebouwd Magazine #42, you can read the full interview with Duurzaam Gebouwd expert Bram Adema. You can read this magazine online.

Text: Tom de Hoog, Image: Robert Tjalondo