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Sustainability in building: a three-line approach

In a previous article, Operations Director Ronald Geus shared his views on innovation. Today, we are talking about sustainability, and in particular about what Ronald calls his “three-line approach”.

What do you mean by this three-line approach? 

“I think sustainability can be improved in the construction process on three different levels, or along three different lines.”

“Discussions about sustainability are often restricted to the third line, because it is the most obvious level. The installation of LED lighting, for example, replacing a boiler with a heat pump system, or the extent to which construction materials are produced environmentally-friendly. Sustainability, however, starts earlier in the process.”

If a façade is still good, that’s great. So why not use that as a starting point for our design?
- Ronald Geus, Operations Director

Counting down from three, could you define the second and first line? 

“The second line is demountable construction, with reusable materials. I am convinced that in a few years’ time we will look back in amazement at the days when we simply discarded things. That has nothing to do with costs and everything to do with intrinsic motivation: I want to prevent waste.”

“The first line is to consider reusing existing basic structures as a whole. If a façade is still good, that’s great. So why not use that as a starting point for our design?”

“Every building team should ask itself those three questions, in this order. One: what does not require replacement? Two: how can I reuse the materials I bring into the process. And three: how can I make the most environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient choices in non-reusable materials?”

Ultimately, it is the customer who decides. How do you help – or convince – customers to make sustainable choices? 

“By showing where and how they can add value to their projects. By offering well-thought-out sustainable options. And by simply posing the question: on which points are you willing to make sustainable choices?”

“With every project we try to surprise our customers by doing or suggesting something that they hadn’t thought about themselves. That little bit extra can also be something in the field of sustainability. It is a way to introduce sustainability through inspiration; a way to shape sustainability through our core values.”

Sustainability is not a 2030 thing. It’s a today thing.

Shaping sustainability through our core values: what exactly do you mean by that? 

“At Bulsink, we work according to our B.U.I.L.D. core values. Brand-conscious. Ultra-fast. Inspiring. Leading. Determined. Everything we do, including our efforts in the field of sustainability, is related to one or more of these core values.”

“Ultra-fast, for example. By eliminating unnecessary steps in building processes, we primarily shorten lead times. At the same time, it improves sustainability. Inspiring: surprising a customer with that sustainable solution which I mentioned before, or Leading: seeing opportunities rather than risks in adopting a different, more sustainable approach to building.”

Usually, interviews about sustainability are about Paris Proof Commitments and mandatory energy labels. You haven’t said anything about that yet … 

“Sustainability is not about having an A label on your façade in 2030. Indeed, but it is a great incentive. But, for me personally and for our organisation, sustainability is really a matter of intrinsic motivation. It’s not a 2030 thing. It’s a today thing.”

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