The Westergasfabriek is a place where people come to have fun, to be inspired and where inventive events take place. We take great pride in this. At the same time it is no secret that events put a great deal of pressure on our climate and living environment. We believe that this can be done differently. Together with partners and likeminds, we aim to increase our contribution to a fair, sustainable world. Read on to discover what we are doing to achieve this goal.
The next step in sustainable redevelopment
Let’s start at the very beginning: the heavily polluted ‘Wester Gasfabriek’ (Western Gas Factory), where gas was produced from coal for the streetlighting in Amsterdam, has undergone a complete metamorphosis since its reopening in 2003. The redeveloped factory site and the beautifully laid out park are an asset for Amsterdam and the local area. The Westergasfabriek is regarded as a model for sustainable redevelopment, far beyond the Netherlands’ borders.
The Westergasfabriek wants to complete this transformation from ‘old’ to ‘new’ energy and take all possible steps towards creating a fully sustainable site. Augmenting the sustainability of a monumental building is more complex than that of a newly constructed one. The possibilities are more limited and expensive due to its status as a national monument. As part of a pilot project of the Ministry of Education, Culture & Science on making National Monuments sustainable, the Westergasfabriek took up the challenge to enhance the sustainability of our buildings where possible while retaining their historic character. The knowledge and experience we have gained in this process serve as an example for other parties wishing to augment the sustainability of listed buildings in the future.
What we do to be ‘green’
LED lighting and insulation: the Westergasfabriek has invested heavily in additional insulation and LED lighting in the event locations. The result is more than worth the investment: the transition to LED has reduced energy consumption by at least 65% in comparison to the old halogen lighting. The insulation resulted in savings of approximately 30%.
Generating energy from waste: the Westergasfabriek was the first in the Netherlands to use a ‘Waste Transformer’, an innovative digester that transforms the food waste from all the restaurants and businesses on the site into green energy. In the future, we aim to extend this to events on the terrain as well.
Added benefit: by separating organic waste and processing it on-site, the energy flow – and therefore the transport from the site – is also reduced. As a result, CO2 emissions are also much lower.
Smart collective purchasing: together with all the permanent tenants on the site, we switched to a single waste company that processes all our waste as sustainably as possible. In addition to reducing waste, there is also less motorised traffic in the park. We also collectively purchase 100% green electricity with several other cultural institutions in Amsterdam.
100% electric hotel: at the start of 2018, Conscious Hotels will open its doors in the former Stadsdeelkantoor building (district office). The hotel will not only be sustainable in terms of energy (no gas, 100% electric and a combined heat/cold plant), but also in its choice of materials. The building will therefore be conferred energy label A. Additionally, the food and beverages at the hotel and the restaurant will be 100% organic and, where possible, locally produced.
Green partners: we prefer to collaborate with organisations that share our ambitions. We actively search for ‘green’ customers and we stimulate the use of ecologically-conscious caterers and suppliers. The preferred partners of the Westergasfabriek, DeBorrelFabriek and Jurlights, uphold the philosophy of ‘people, purpose and planet’.
Clean cultural venues: the Westergasfabriek is one of 20 selected cultural institutions in Amsterdam to participate in an extensive sustainability rapport of the Municipality of Amsterdam. The advicory report will include issues such as energy savings, waste, water, purchasing, catering and circular operational management as well as the sustainability projects we have already initiated. The feasibility of the measures will also be taken into consideration to make sure the advisory report is realistic and implementable. The report will be finished in the autumn of 2017.
Platform for sustainability: the Westergasfabriek also acts as a platform for others to make sustainability visible to visitors. Examples are the beehives kept by Smart Beeing in the Gashouder ponds, the Join the Pipe water point where water bottles can be filled at no charge, the reuse of water from the pond to water the grass and, since recently, the E-Bike to Go pilot project in the park.
Vision for the future:
Of course, we are not finished yet! Our goal: to be fully climate neutral by 2025. Our mission: to achieve this by our own means as much as possible and to inspire others to follow suit. We challenge suppliers, partners and event organisers to take steps together with us. We do this through small-scale ‘taste and talk’ sessions with proeffesionals in events and sustainability on how the event industry can augment its sustainability.
For the Westergasfabriek, the road to a sustainable park is an amazing process in which we keep learning and innovating. We aim to continue to do this within the context of our own business operations and in collaboration with our tenants and partners.