After several years of quick growth, we have reached the limits of our more than 35 year old office (pictured above just behind the parked cars). With 30 office staff, desks are too close together, air conditioning systems are not up to their job any more and toilet facilities are outdated, with insufficient capacity.
So, confident in the future growth of our company we decided to build a new office of roughly double the size of the old one: 2400 m2 for 50 office staff and canteen/washrooms for 140. We elected not to rebuild in the same location because space there is too limited and the transition would interfere with our daily operations. Luckily we have another plot of land at the back of our workshop that is big enough (pictured above on the left of the workshop).
Following the successful construction of our Zero Energy House in 2011/2012, for the new office we decided to take this concept one step further. This time we will build an office that generates more energy than it consumes on an annual basis (Energy Plus Office) and construct it completely from sustainable building materials, using the Cradle to Cradle principles. And to make sure that all health- and environmental goals are explicitly clear and measurable we decided to have the whole office certified under BREEAM rules, aiming for the highest score: "Outstanding / 5 stars".
Why take it this far ? First and foremost because it makes good business sense for any company to be isolated as much as possible from future fluctuations in fossil fuel energy prices and to take the best possible care of its staff. The estimated additional investment to achieve that will be recovered within 10 years, which is a very good investment for assets that will last many decades.
Secondly, manufacturing companies in Western Europe can only thrive through continuous innovation and improvement. Sustainability is both a great driver for innovation and a big attraction for the best employees. They want to be part of a team that uses their skills and energy to innovate and add value to a bigger cause than just making money. The environment in which they work is an important catalyst for that innovation and teamwork.
And finally, our company's strategy is focussed on sustainability, both our own and that of our customers. With our counterflow drying and cooling technology we can make a small but meaningful contribution to providing the growing world population with enough food in a sustainable way.
For a company's success, Return on Financial Capital is no longer enough. It must also generate Returns on Social and Natural Capital. The new office should reflect those goals for all stakeholders to see.