Richard (re)tweets: “Gaining experience in the area of sustainability means we’re better equipped to advise our clients. It works both ways.”

Richard Kooloos, Head of Sustainable Banking at ABN AMRO and registered tweeter, has pressed the tweet button more than 3,600 times in just over 2,400 days. He shares what he thinks, does and sees in the world of sustainability. This is his selection of tweets from the past quarter.

The unique thing about Mission 2030, as announced by ABN AMRO’s CEO Kees van Dijkhuizen, is that the entire bank is now pursuing one and the same strategy and target date when it comes to real estate: by 2030, all our clients’ properties and those of the bank itself must have an average energy label rating of A.

Forty per cent of all carbon emissions in the Netherlands are generated by the built environment. The emissions produced by our clients’ properties comes in at about six megatons a year. Obviously, we can make a massive contribution to reducing carbon emissions by making these properties more sustainable.

Of course, we can’t force our clients to take action. But we can help them by informing them of their options and inspiring them. A shining example is the new Circl property in Amsterdam’s Zuidas district. The focus here is not only on the energy transition, but also on the building materials transition. Circl was built in accordance with circular principles, ensuring that all materials that went into it can be recycled. The bank fully embraces the right of others to copy these achievements. By inspiring others with Circl, the bank hopes to encourage and support other stakeholders committed to circular construction.

Making the world a better place starts with all of us. And that’s what we hope to do with Circl. Plus gaining experience means we’re better equipped to advise our clients. It works both ways.

It’s clear that as a society we have to reduce our carbon emissions. The best way to do that is by saving energy. It may not be the most popular message out there, but it’s one we have to accept – urgently. That’s why the bank has now launched a tool all homeowners are free to use to see what steps they can take to make their home more sustainable.

While sustainability has long been an option for homeowners, too few have embraced it. Although many are interested in what their options are when they move into a new home, it becomes more and more difficult to get them to take action the longer they’ve lived there. Why? Here at ABN AMRO, we feel there have been too many obstacles in their way. We hope the tool will make things easier and encourage our clients to do the right thing.

We aim to make over 700,000 homes more energy-efficient so they will have an average energy label rating of A.

Two years ago, the bank started to offer real estate investors financing solutions to make their properties more sustainable. Now we’re doing the same thing for all business owners, meeting 100 per cent of their financing needs. We’ve learned a lot lately about providing the best insight into the necessary steps to increase sustainability.

When we started this initiative with professional real estate investors in 2015, only 1 per cent of all the properties we financed had an A label. Now that’s 13 per cent.

There are major differences in how to approach private individuals and business owners with ideas to help them make more sustainable choices. A business owner might sit down with a spreadsheet and just want to see how the changes will end up affecting the bottom line. A private individual may be emotionally invested in their house and thus have serious doubts about whether they really ought to have solar panels installed on the roof.

A problem often facing business owners is a long to-do list. Our aim is to get them to add sustainability to that list anyway. After all, the earlier you make a building more sustainable, the less money it will ultimately cost. Plus having a conversation now about your options will help you decide on the best time to plan them.

Some things are so obvious they’re easy to miss. For instance, we’ve decided to turn our logo upside down to publicise Mission 2030. It’s a huge project involving two-thirds of all the money the bank lends – a whopping EUR 185 billion. Together with our clients, we can make a major impact, so we’re doing everything we can to raise awareness of Mission 2030.

Circl officially opened its doors at the beginning of September. I am so proud of this amazing circular building in Amsterdam’s Zuidas district. At the end of the day, though, it’s not about the building, but about the story behind it. How do we transform ourselves from a throwaway society to a circular one? Here at ABN AMRO, we want to encourage a dialogue on this topic with as many people as we can. And Circl is integral to that conversation.

We’re also looking forward to getting feedback on what spurs people on to implement sustainable measures. That’s why we’re hoping Circl will boost interest and help inspire visitors. The first example is HAUT, a wooden residential tower, which is being built on the Amstel River. BAM, the construction company which also built Circl, will be lending a helping hand here, too. We’re thrilled they’ve been inspired by the project, which is exactly what we were hoping to achieve.

There’s also been a lot of interest in Circl outside the Netherlands. The bank has a good relationship with Dell, for example. Last year, we organised a project with them to have our old computers and laptops reused in schools. Now they’re planning to return to visit Circl, which we hope will inspire even more like-minded people.

As we all know, change is hard. Despite a range of energy-saving techniques being available for some time, they have yet to be used en masse. Why not? Why do we prefer to spend our money on other things? It takes leadership not only from high-profile organisations, but also from the likes of you and me, to make this transition. Only when we realise that it’s vital to the future of our planet will we embrace sustainability. The time is now!