Area approach

Area-specific sustainability

Wondering how you can make a historical area more sustainable together? Then an area-specific approach to sustainability may be a good solution. This means we look for ways to achieve a high level of sustainability in an area or terrain.

Ingredients of our area approach

The ingredients that our project managers find important and will facilitate are:

Ambition statement and scope

An area project starts with a good ambition determination and scope. What are we working towards? Who do we involve? What topics do we include?

Opportunities and scope

Renewable energy can come from the sun, soil, water and air. Investigate the energy sources and opportunities for energy exchange and create an energy vision for the area.

Study of building types

A study of building types examines what types of buildings are common in an area and what opportunities there are for making these building types more sustainable.

Stakeholder cooperation and participation

Involve all key stakeholders early in the process. Make sure everyone is on the same page and ensure co-creation.

Taking action

Mapping the area

An area study describes the steps to be taken to achieve a high level of sustainability in an area or terrain. The area will be examined as an ‘ecosystem’. This means an investigation into what the possibilities are for sustainability at the area level and collectively. Together with you, we determine the ambition and then examine the steps to be taken and their feasibility. Area maps and data analyses can be made. How exactly the area scan takes shape will depend on the demand and complexity of the area. Topics that may be covered:

  • What ambition fits the project and gives direction to the elaboration?
  • Are there opportunities for a common energy source? What does that look like?
  • Where can sustainable electricity be generated? Are there places to install solar panels on or around the buildings? Or at a greater distance?
  • Are other forms of collective energy generation conceivable? Is a collective ground source among the possibilities? Or residual heat from the environment, such as from the ground or surrounding water?
  • What is the composition of building types in the area? Roughly speaking, what are the opportunities for making the buildings more sustainable?
  • And what would be the implications of the solution directions from an organisational point of view?
  • What does the CO2 footprint of the area look like?
  • Are there opportunities for (zero) waste, water, greenery, food/catering/purchasing and the circularity of the area?

A district or regional approach

The transition to natural gas-free districts is particularly challenging when it comes to neighbourhoods with many historical buildings. It is too expensive to provide tailored advice for every property in the district. If a certain type of housing is common in a district, we propose a district approach. We select a number of properties that are representative of the district. For these buildings, we examine the technical possibilities for sustainability and identify the legal frameworks. Based on this advice, general advice will be drawn up for the neighbourhood.
You do not have to limit yourself to a single neighbourhood in this approach. It is also possible, following the same procedure, to issue advice for a housing type that is common in the municipality or even region.
The insights from the advice can be shared at an information meeting for residents and on a municipal Green Menu. It can also be interesting to organise a group buying for the recommended measures.

Setting up and supervising an area approach

An area approach requires initiative and good cooperation between the stakeholders. We have a great deal of experience in setting up and supervising this type of project together with various partners, such as municipalities, government authorities, building owners, property developers, residents, entrepreneurs, engineering firms & utilities. Think of things like:

  • Process management
  • Involving and connecting organisations
  • Organising and applying for subsidies and financing
  • Resident activation and participation
  • Reporting and visualisations
  • Storytelling about the project

Featured projects

Collective source network Oosterpark/ Plantagebuurt

Collective source network Oosterpark/ Plantagebuurt

Four frontrunners from Amsterdam, the municipality of Amsterdam, ARTIS, the Royal Tropical Institute and the OLVG location East, under the supervision of De Groene Grachten, have signed a declaration of intent for the joint generation and exchange of their energy. The parties have high sustainability ambitions and see joining forces as the way to contribute on a large scale to the energy transition in the neighbourhood. The potential impact is enormous. It concerns the sustainability of 60 buildings, which currently consume around 120,000 Gigajoules (GJ) of heat annually. This is equivalent to heating some 3,800 Amsterdam monumental apartments.

Soestdijk Estate sustainable

Soestdijk Estate sustainable

Soestdijk Palace has the towering ambition of becoming the world's first energy-neutral palace. Commissioned by Soestdijk Palace, De Groene Grachten drew up a plan to make the estate and its beautiful monuments more sustainable. Because if sustainability can be achieved here, it can be done anywhere! Watch the video via the link below.

Sustainable quay renovation

Sustainable quay renovation

Some 200 km of vulnerable Amsterdam quay walls will have to be renovated in the coming years, due to subsidence and poor condition of the foundation. For 10 km, there is even a risk of collapse. We are currently working on a plan for sustainable quay restoration, because despite the enormous challenge, quay renovation offers sustainable opportunities. Together with the municipality of Amsterdam, TU Delft and Green Light District, we are working on a project to use energy from the quays (soil) and canal water to heat and cool surrounding buildings.

Curious about the possibilities?

  • “The advisors at De Groene Grachten analysed our energy consumption and identified new opportunities for energy savings, which we immediately implemented. Thanks in part to the help of De Groene Grachten, KIT is able to take important steps to realise its sustainable ambitions for the building. The next step we will take together is a sustainable heat grid and even more energy savings.”

    Marc Schneiders
    Marc Schneiders CEO of KIT
  • "Our installations were in need of replacement and our energy bill was sky-high. Thanks to this conversion, our gas consumption has gone from 36,000 m3 of gas to zero and we are heating the three buildings with outside air and beer cooling. And this is just the beginning, now it’s time for all the student houses!"

    Martijn Berkhuizen
    Martijn Berkhuizen Student association L.A.N.X.
  • "De Groene Grachten represents the first step towards sustainable historical buildings in the Netherlands. Precisely these buildings - which are already very ‘sustainable’ in a sense, because they have often existed for centuries - must also keep up with the times."

    Jacqueline Cramer
    Jacqueline Cramer Director of Utrecht Sustainability Institute (USI)


Would you also like to work on making your building more sustainable?
Mail or call us at +31 (0)20 210 14 46