Shorter texts, less administration: Handbook 3.1 is a more efficient standard

Handbook 3.1, the successor to Handbook 3.0, was published on 22 June. SKAO interviews Jeroen Gijzen and Huub Groenenberg, two members of the Central Board of Experts (CCvD). The CCvD makes the amendment decisions about the Manual. One of the pillars of Handbook 3.1 is the 'more efficient standard'. What is meant by this and what role have they played in this?

What is your role in the CCvD?

Jeroen works at De Vries and Van de Wiel and represents the association of hydraulic engineers. "That is sometimes quite difficult, because there are large and small hydraulic engineers and they sometimes have different wishes." He himself works for a medium to large hydraulic engineer. Although from that perspective it is difficult to represent the smaller hydraulic engineers, he does his best by discussing issues that affect them personally. Huub, who works at K_Dekker bouw & infra bv and who is a representative of MKB Infra, is particularly committed to smaller and medium-sized contractors. "Large contractors outsource a lot of work to my supporters, which is how a lot of CO2 is emitted there. In particular it concerns fuel." All those small parties together therefore certainly have an impact on total CO2 emissions. "I therefore think it is important that SMEs remain involved in the Ladder." Jeroen: "The fact that Huub continues to involve the small parties helps me to do the same for my industry. I like that mix in the CCvD." The people they represent have confidence in the two members. According to Jeroen, that has grown over the years. "We used to discuss everything with supporters. Now as representatives we have become more mature, more mature. Where we used to kick a lot against everything, we now understand each other and their supporters better. As sector organizations we have a common goal and the supporters feel that too."

"As sector organizations we have a common goal and the supporters feel that too." - Jeroen Gijzen

What did your supporters want to change?

Huub: "We are doers, not administrators. So I always fight for less administrative burdens and simple, understandable texts. That is sometimes complicated, because at the same time you want to be precise in a standard such as the Handbook." According to Jeroen, they have succeeded quite well in implementing those spearheads. “Some requirements included some sort of hidden, administrative requirements that made the audits more difficult than necessary. I think we have managed to make those requirements more compact. In practice it must become clear whether it is really workable." He also managed to make the text more understandable and the texts in Handbook 3.1 are in some places a lot shorter than in his predecessor. Huub: "what I have also worked hard for is the dialogue between client and contractor. SMEs really want to achieve sustainability goals, but in collaboration with the client. The common goal is CO2 reduction. We can increase that by working together." What is new in Handbook 3.1 is therefore an appendix in which this dialogue is stimulated.

"We are doers, not administrators. So I Always fight for less administrative burdens and simple, understandable texts."- Huub Groenenberg

What has not changed in the Handbook?

Handbook 3.1 (as was already the case in Handbook 3.0) does not always describe in black and white when a requirement is met. According to both CCvD members, this is both the strength and the pitfall of the CO2 Performance Ladder. Huub says that the Ladder appeals to the creativity of companies. "On the one hand, the Ladder ensures that companies can reduce a lot of CO2 in their own way. On the other hand, it can also cause external auditors to come under pressure and really have to be strong when they feel that a company does not meet a requirement.” Jeroen: "Certainly if a lot of money is involved, in my opinion that does not always go well. The CIs (certifying organizations, red.) want to keep the companies too friendly." Huub continues: "and for companies, the fine can increase considerably if the goals are not met, after they have won contracts based on a fictitious discount." Both CCvD members believe that CIs should offer more resistance when there is reason to do so according to the Handbook, in order to prevent unfair award discounts