Creating an impact, that’s what we do at ION. We build on the basis of the needs of the environment, not the other way around. Every single day, our team looks for solutions and ways to build in a sustainable manner and to keep our ecological footprint as small as possible. We play a pioneering role in many areas; for instance, our office at Waregem was the very first CO₂-neutral office building in Belgium. We would like to share 5 initiatives that really make a difference.
Greywater is a collective name for household wastewater that comes from baths, showers or washbasins rather than from toilets. The name refers to the colour of the water after some time, due to soap residue etc. Greywater recovery means that greywater is filtered and reused, for instance to flush the toilets of an entire block of flats or to do laundry. This way we are environment conscious and save costs.
In many places there is a surplus of heat that is simply lost. This residual heat is generated by nuclear plants, waste incinerators, industrial processes and cooling systems. Instead of letting this heat go to waste, the neighbourhood can benefit from it via a heat distribution grid. Insulated (underground) pipes take heat from one place to another. At ION we make full use of this technique: soon we will heat the houses of Suikerpark with the residual heat from the potato chips oven of the PepsiCo plant in Veurne. This is unique: never before has a residential neighbourhood been heated with residual heat from a food company.
3. Collective boiler rooms
This means that there is a shared boiler instead of separate boilers for each housing unit. Not only does this concept save space, a collective boiler room is also more interesting in terms of maintenance. The central heat production unit is easier to reach for technicians and is in general cheaper to install. In the past, such a system was not used because residents only wanted to pay for their own consumption, which is logical. Today, there are solutions where all residents receive a separate bill.
Geothermal energy allows you to heat and/or cool your house with heat from within the earth. It’s a non-polluting, renewable and free source of energy that is very interesting in the fight against global warming. A geothermal heat pump ensures that a heat-carrying fluid circulates through an underground tube system. As the natural heat of the soil raises the temperature of the fluid in the tubes, we obtain added energy. An interesting bonus is that this method is not dependent on weather conditions, as is the case with photovoltaic panels or wind turbines.
Urban mining means that we reuse (raw) materials for a new project. If we start a project for which demolition works were necessary, we first check whether there are any materials we can give a second life. Only recently, a lot of materials were recovered at the Burenberg site in Leuven, like doors, stairs and beams. We not only reuse the materials on the same site, but also offer some of them on the second-hand market. For our project in Turnhout and Veurne, a lot of concrete rubble was recycled, which is now part of the foundations.
Every day we keep looking for new ways to make a difference, and we set great store by innovative solutions that enable us to preserve our planet. It’s not without a reason that our baseline is “develop different”!