An Alkmaar bank branch is the prime sustainable business case

Greenquest

One of the two goals of the Green Quest last year was to make a mid-sized ABN AMRO bank branch in Alkmaar energy and carbon neutral. Now, though, those horizons have been expanded: if all Dutch offices were to copy this business case, fifty per cent of the Dutch ‘Energy Agreement for Sustainable Growth’, would be met.

Last year ABN AMRO was advised by the Green Quest, the Netherlands’ leading experts in sustainability. The bank had two goals: to obtain BREEAM Excellent certification for its head office at Gustav Mahlerlaan in Amsterdam and to make its Alkmaar branch carbon and energy neutral. We wanted to create a successful business case that other ABN AMRO branches and clients could copy. And we were successful! The Gustav Mahlerlaan building was awarded BREEAM Excellent certification in September, and the Alkmaar branch followed in November.

Carbon and energy neutral

Both offices now rank among the only four office buildings in the province of North Holland with the highest level BREEAM sustainability certificate for existing buildings. The Alkmaar branch is even fully carbon and energy neutral. This means that carbon emissions are kept at zero by limiting and compensating emissions, and the office has become self-sufficient energy-wise by saving and generating energy. What is the business case? What measures can office owners or renters duplicate?

The Alkmaar business case

The market will sit on its hands unless it sees a solid business case. Office owners will only invest in sustainability if the return time is realistic. The successful transformation of the Alkmaar branch demonstrates that such a business case is possible.

The lessons of Alkmaar

Below are the three main measures – all of which pay off quickly – that every office owner in the Netherlands can implement:

Alkmaar's impact

One of the goals stated in the Dutch Energy Agreement for Sustainable Growth  is to reduce energy consumption in the total developed environment by 62 petajoules. If the lessons learned in Alkmaar were to be rolled out nationwide – including outside of ABN AMRO – 50 per cent (30.6 petajoules) of that goal would be met. And this doesn’t even include residential buildings. This is what ABN AMRO will do to make impact. 

Annemarie Rakhorst, one of the pioneers in sustainable building, says the next step for ABN AMRO is to bring this knowledge to the housing market. She was quoted in the Dutch financial daily Het Financieele Dagblad as saying ‘Individuals often have a hard time making their homes energy-producing. ABN AMRO should share this knowledge.’