Making business parks more sustainable
Little is known about the energy consumption of the approximately 3,500 business parks and industrial sites in the Netherlands. But according to our calculations, the savings in their carbon emissions could potentially be as great as making residential areas natural-gas-free. This brings us closer to the government's goal of reducing carbon emissions significantly.
Making business parks more sustainable
The objective is to save 3.4 megatons of carbon emissions from the built environment. Actions for business parks and industrial sites to save natural gas can save 1.7 megaton of carbon emissions annually. This requires collaboration, ownership, and support. That is why we are working together with partners on an acceleration programme to make business parks more sustainable, in the Business Parks Energy Positive Foundation [Stichting Bedrijventerreinen Energiepositief or BE+].
Five factors for success
The entrepreneurial and industrial character of business parks and industrial sites can accelerate the energy transition for companies and the environment. Success depends on 5 factors:
- A high degree of organisation: Is there already a business collective, such as a business association, committee or park management?
- A formal and active (non-profit) collectivity: Is there a collective entity of companies fully or prominently dedicated to sustainability, with a widely supported mission and vision?
- Professionalism: Are the right expertise and connecting and serving competences available for structural support of companies in the energy transition?
- Public-private partnership: Is there structural collaboration between the business community and (decentralised) authorities?
- Access to capital: Is there access to capital under favourable conditions? For example, an energy fund, an entrepreneurial fund or incentive arrangements.
Acceleration programme for sustainability of business parks
The acceleration programme helps business parks to start projects. In a centre of expertise, we are developing and sharing knowledge. Success at one company can mean acceleration for other companies, because business parks do not all have to reinvent the wheel. This also saves on costs, and issues for the entire sector or several business parks can be solved simultaneously.
Background to the acceleration programme
The Acceleration Programme for Sustainability of Business Parks is an initiative of Transitiemakers, the CLOK Foundation, and TNO. It is supported by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. It is intended for entrepreneurs and provides a platform for entrepreneurs and government to help each other.
We are working together with partners in the BE+ Foundation, initially aiming to make 250 business parks and industrial sites energy positive. Thirty-five business parks have joined. BE+ supports collectives of entrepreneurs with practical advice, quick scans and collective financing, and regularly organizes meetings where they exchange experiences and jointly design initiatives.
Signing the covenant
The Covenant on Making Business Parks More Sustainable (pdf) (in Dutch) comprises objectives and bottlenecks. The signatories also indicate how they will work to accelerate the sustainability of business parks. The covenant was signed on 30 January 2020 by many parties including TNO, representatives of business parks and industrial sites, government agencies, and other organisations.
Starter guide to a more sustainable business park
Business parks are often neglected in the discussion on energy saving, although they are a promising group for realising environmental gains. Getting started with improving sustainability of business parks? See the quick start guide (pdf) (in Dutch).
Carbon emissions from business parks
In 2018, an exploratory study was conducted by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. From this dataset, we selected 850 business parks from the BE+ target group. The average direct and indirect carbon emissions from these sites in 2017 were 8.9 kilotons. This leads to a reduction of (direct and indirect) carbon emissions of 2.2 megatons for 250 business parks.
Clear overview of possibilities
Many entrepreneurs lack knowledge and well-thought-out plans. BE+ meets this need. Collective action by associations of entrepreneurs to save energy can save time and get more entrepreneurs to take action. To accelerate this, we have developed a tool that maps out the potential for energy savings within the business park. For each building, it shows what is possible, the investment required, and the return on investment.
Insight into existing data
Business parks do not have to provide any data, as the tool collects data from sources such as municipalities, Statistics Netherlands, and grid operators. This includes type of business, building, age, consumption, energy infrastructure, and more. These are combined and disclosed in a clear overview. This provides a detailed insight into the potential savings and how they can be achieved. The entrepreneurs generally recoup the investment in 15 years.
No technical and financial burden
Entrepreneurs have the freedom to decide what the measures will look like. BE+ helps park managers to put together a package that relieves them of all technical and financial burden. For this purpose, a quick start guide (pdf) (in Dutch) and training courses have been developed for park managers to properly motivate and guide their entrepreneurs.
In addition, we at BE+ are helping to develop an approach to also collectively finance the measures, so that entrepreneurs do not have to invest themselves, but from day one pay a lower monthly amount than they used to spend on energy. From the professional organization that this creates, we see opportunities arise within business parks and industrial sites for the realisation of a smart grid that is managed by the entrepreneurs themselves. This makes it possible to trade energy among themselves through a Local Energy Management Platform (LEM). In time, this will also allow peaks in electricity production and consumption to be accommodated.