ION’s CO2-Neutral building site

09 April 2020

ION, together with weather forecaster Jill Peeters and minister Bart Tommelein call for as many construction projects as possible to build in a climate-neutral manner.

Monday 26 November 2018- Building a large industrial site of 11,597m2 without any impact on the climate? It seems impossible, but it is exactly what they have done with the construction of Waregem Business Park. It is the first industrial site in our country that is build in a CO2-Neutral way. This was possible thanks to, among other things, heavy efforts in terms of materials selection and energy consumption. Even the exhaust fumes from the trucks entering and leaving the site were compensated by investing in a special climate project in Uganda. In total, no less than 16 579 tonnes of CO2 have been neutralised. It is project developer ION who can claim this honour and immediately calls for more construction projects in our country to be built this way. We would be able to avoid +- 13 million tons of CO2 emissions annually, which is gigantic if that would happen. Weather forecaster and climate expert Jill Peeters and Flemish Minister of Energy Bart Tommelein support this call and consider the Waregem site as a exemplary project.

A 35% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030: that is the aim for Belgium set by Europe. An enormous challenge to which everyone has to contribute, not least the business world. In recent months, the real estate sector has already made a good start with the launch of the first fully climate-neutral business site in our country. It concerns the ‘Waregem Business Park’, an industrial site of almost 11 600 m2, or the size of almost 2 football fields.

CO2 reduction

The unique project is a collaboration between project developer ION and CO2logic, which specialises in calculating, reducing and compensating CO2 emissions. This team started by meticulously calculating how much carbon dioxide would be emitted in total for the construction of the business park. That proved to be exactly 16 579 tonnes, comparable to the annual emissions of 1 550 Belgian households, or over 99 million kilometers driven by car. They then worked out how they could avoid greenhouse gas emissions on the one hand and compensate them efficiently on the other.

In the end, local contractors and supplies were called in, which led to a significant reduction in truck emissions and ION kept a close eye on energy consumption during construction. In addition,  the project developer made use of numerous climate-friendly building techniques. Just think of geothermics, climate ceilings, green roofs, rain water buffering, extra sunproof glass and LED lighting.

“We did this project with strong beliefs. Climate-neutral construction is a social obligation for us. It is the way in which we can effectively make our contribution to the climate challenges that await us all. As a company, we really want to set an example for the entire sector.”

Davy Demuynck, Managing partner ION

African cookstoves

What makes the initiative even more remarkable, is that it also intervened on emissions that could not be reduced by climate-friendly building materials, or other sustainable techniques. These ‘unavoidable’ emissions were compensated through financial support for certified climate projects in Africa, which help the local population to reduce their CO2 emissions. ION supported as such, the ‘Saving Trees’ project in Uganda, which provides for the distribution of more efficient ovens to the local population.

“Today, no less than 3 billion people still cook on an open fire. 93% of the population in Uganda burns wood or charcoal to make food every day. Large quantities of CO2 are pumped into the air and large areas of forest disappear. With the ‘Saving Trees’ project we have found a solution that both protects forests, as improves the quality of life of the local population. It concerns efficient ovens, which require only have of the wood or charcoal families use and ensure that they emit an average of 2 tons less CO2 per family per year.”

Antoine Geerincks, Managing director CO2logic

Public invitation to the industry

The project in Waregem is the first to be built completely CO2-neutral, but it doesn’t stop there, if it depends on ION. The company, together with climate expert and forecaster Jill Peeters, is calling for as many construction projects as possible to be built in a CO2-neutral way. If every real estate project in our country were to be built this way, it would save +/- 13 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

“Seven out of ten Belgian companies still don’t know how big their impact is on our climate today, let alone that they would be willing or be able to do something about it. That has to improve. The project in Waregem shows that it is possible to tackle the climate disruption, and that it also benefits you as an entrepreneur. The knowledge about sustainable entrepreneurship is available, we now only have to have the common sense and energy to get started.”

Jill Peeters, forecaster and founder of Climate without Borders

Flemish Minister of Energy Bart Tommelein, also supports the proposal and emphasises that building the climate-neutral way can take our country a long way in the fight against global warming.

“In fact, all companies should build like this. Some companies need a little push. Others, like ION, do it on their own. I can only applaud them. If all companies take their responsibility, we would be a big step closer to meeting the climate targets.”

Bart Tommelein, Flemish Minister of Energy

ION received the CO2-Neutral® label for the construction of the new business site in Waregem. This was developed by CO2logic, in collaboration with the independent international certification body Vinçotte, based on the internationally recognised standard.