One of AT Osborne’s priorities is to create a sustainable living environment. Sustainability is not something we do – it is who we are. But we are not living this reality. Each year, we use more resources than the earth can cope with. As a result, sea levels are rising, cities are becoming hotter, and fossil fuels are being depleted. This has to change. At AT Osborne, we feel strongly motivated to do our bit to help overcome this challenge.
Our clients see and understand this, too. They have a responsibility to turn climate agreements into specific programmes that yield results. The question is: how can we go about doing this effectively? Can we bring together parties that have roughly the same challenges and, if so, how? How do you combine interests? How do you ensure that taxes are spent on useful and effective initiatives? How can you achieve results? This is where we come in. We focus on three subjects: the energy transition, climate adaptation and circularity.
One of AT Osborne’s priorities is to create a sustainable living environment.
The energy transition is in full swing. The signatories of the energy agreement for sustainable growth – which includes multiple governments – are seeking to save energy and contribute to the generation of sustainable energy. The aim is to ensure that 16% of energy is generated from sustainable sources by 2023.
However, it is often difficult to get sustainable energy projects off the ground. They are complex from a financial, legal and procedural point of view due to the fact that many parties (both public and private) are involved. Furthermore, wind energy, solar energy and biogas projects pose an additional challenge due to the space required. AT Osborne is here to translate these aims into feasible sustainable energy projects that are brought to fruition. To do so, AT Osborne relies on an excellent network consisting of government agencies, businesses and financial backers. In terms of content, AT Osborne combines its knowledge of wind and solar energy, energy sourced from biomass, heating networks and building-specific installations with financial expertise (structuring, business cases, construction cost management, subsidies), knowledge of collaboration models, specialist administrative/legal expertise (including environmental law) and knowledge of local energy companies. Our advisers are well versed in the procedures involved, serve as a liaison between the various parties and actively work to bring projects to completion as required.
Adapting to climate change
Everyone in the Netherlands will have to face the effects of climate change – you are no exception. Heavy downpours leading to lost harvests and submerged roads and basements are no longer rare occurrences. The same goes for heat waves, drought and the (health-related) effects that come with them. We have to learn to deal with these changes: to backtrack or to deny this is to lose time. For us, this means that we have to adapt to these new situations both now and in the long term. The time for talking about things is over; now we have to act.
What is climate adaptation and why are we taking it seriously (or not)?
Climate adaptation is what we call adapting to climate change. The Netherlands has been undergoing this process for some time now. Examples include the Delta Works, the more recent dike reinforcement programmes and the Room for the River projects. Measures are being taken at local level, too: from playgrounds that can collect water to the removal of garden paving. However, these measures are not enough in themselves. The speed at which climate change is happening continues to surprise us. Time after time, we read reports in the news about flooding and heat waves. We haven’t yet found an adequate answer to increasingly heavy downpours and long periods of heat and drought in a world that is picking up speed and becoming numbed.
What is circular construction?
First and foremost, circular construction is about putting materials back into the cycle. This means thinking during the design phase about how a building or structure can become part of the cycle once more at the end of its life without leaving behind any poisonous waste materials. They should be easy to disassemble, and retain as much of their value as possible. It is this factor that makes circular construction of economic benefit: materials whose economic value had previously been used up now become a source of new employment.cThis underlines the balance between economic development and preserving nature and natural resources.
We believe that circular construction is the key to a sustainable community – with no waste or residual materials. In that sense, circular construction also encompasses topics such as energy, water management, biodiversity and social sustainability.
Thinkers and doers
The question is how to approach circular construction. The goal is wide-ranging and the bar is high. There are thinkers and doers in the world of construction. The thinker wants to have everything thought out before getting started. Is this the best location for the building? Can all the materials be dismantled. demolished and reused as raw materials? Have agreements been made with contractors, subcontractors and suppliers? Does the building have the best possible energy performance? Does it contribute to biodiversity and responsible water management? And: does the building offer a solution that doesn’t just cover all these factors, but is the best one that can be envisaged at this time? These considerations can result in a long preparatory phase.
The doer takes a different approach. The doer doesn’t want to spend a long time discussing whether all knowledge bases have been covered or justifying every little detail of every decision. Yes, it might always be possible to improve the situation, but the doer wants to get started with the knowledge and expertise they have now. The doer wants to grow by falling and getting up again, not by working everything out in advance. Whichever approach you take, circular construction calls for innovative solutions and adapted processes when it comes to procurement, construction and financing. The doer uses this as their starting point and makes changes.
AT Osborne is home to both thinkers and doers. This balance ensures that the plan we devise is well thought out and put into practice with the expertise required for such an undertaking. Risks are identified and mitigated, while opportunities are found and seized. Aspirations are translated into results.
Making the future possible
Teamwork is essential in circular construction, starting with the construction chain. If the contractor wants to make it possible to reuse materials, the suppliers have to exert their influence on the chain – in conjunction with the suppliers, the producer and, ultimately, the manufacturer of the raw materials. The client’s role is of fundamental importance here – if they don’t insist on circular construction, it will take a long time before it happens. If they do ask for it, this puts a different perspective on the matter. It is crucial that the client sets out their aspirations and that they do not allow themselves to become sidetracked by describing specifications in too much detail. The rule here is simple: if you dictate everything, you’re describing the past. What you actually want to do is offer a vision of the future. Circularity compels you to think about this future and to make your aspirations known. The next step is to enshrine these aspirations in contracts and to contract parties that are able to reach these targets together with the client. If you manage this, the focus will be on achieving results.
The experts at AT Osborne are well aware that they can’t create a circular world on their own. It requires teamwork with visionaries, designers, builders, startups, suppliers and experts – and it’s more rewarding this way, too. Together, we can use one person’s experiences to help another reach a new starting level. This is how we add value and pass it on to others. Clients employ AT Osborne to manage content or take charge of a design, project or programme on their behalf – whether as a project or process manager, a legal or financial expert, a tendering specialist or a trainer.