An interview was recently published in Financial Focus with Bram Adema, CEO of CFP Green Buildings. In this interview, Bram tells us what inspired him to set up CFP and what he has achieved with his company so far.
‘I grew up in a small farming village in the heart of the countryside. During my childhood I lit fires, went looking for pheasants – which were not found there at all – and developed a love of nature. I learnt from local horticulturists that a crop will not grow if you plant the same thing for seven years. Taking good care of the earth is crucial for them. I myself can’t stand everything being destroyed in nature either. Even so, I’m not an activist. I want people to do the right thing, even if financial returns are the underlying reason. At CFP Green Buildings, we make buildings more sustainable and show people the benefits of sustainable decisions, without them having to agree with my idea of sustainability.’
‘I worked in salaried employment for 14 years at Stork and Essent and all that time I saw myself as an entrepreneur within a large company. After I had successfully marketed a joint venture, a board member said: “You can do this for yourself too.” Evidently, I needed that encouragement to start CFP Green Buildings in 2004. In those days, hardly anyone was talking about sustainability and in the early years it was an uphill battle. Most importantly, we showed customers that almost every building was wasting 40 per cent energy, whereas there were profitable ways to make them sustainable. Out of 100 potential customers, no more than five saw how important sustainability would become.’
‘That changed after the introduction of statutory energy obligations for buildings. The few thousand buildings we as CFP were making more sustainable every year suddenly felt like a drop in the ocean. That was until we came up with the idea of using data and an algorithm to develop an online tool that would allow anyone to be a sustainability manager of their own buildings. Since then, the number of buildings scanned by us has risen to one and a half million in the past year, and we hope to roll out the tool in 20 countries next year.’
‘One of the buildings our consultants have made more sustainable is the World Port Center in Rotterdam. With the BREEAM Excellent score, an assessment of a building’s sustainability performance, this old building is now more sustainable than new development. And it is the most sustainable WPC in the world. The sustainability project cost 10 million euros, but the building was subsequently sold for twice the purchase price.’
Bram continues: ‘Now the World Port Center is a smart building with an EPC A, heat recovery and solar panels, and a very healthy building to work in. The combination of the financial miracle story, the sustainability performance and the social value added by preserving this iconic building makes this a very special project for me.’
‘As you would expect, people often ask me if I live in a very sustainable house. Well for 15 years I lived in a listed building, draughty and full of leaks. These days, I live in an energy-positive house. Does that make me a better person? I don’t think so. In my opinion, you should not confuse personal sustainability with your overall impact on the planet.’