‘Prioritize sustainability in areas where you achieve the greatest wins’


‘Prioritize sustainability in areas where you achieve the greatest wins’

The Dutch advisory and engineering agency Movares values a sustainable and healthy living environment. The company therefore actively seeks to minimize the environmental impact of its business. To downsize the environmental impact of its activities, Movares creates opportunities to align sustainable goals with project outcomes and practices what it preaches. Thanks to the firm’s efforts to minimize its impact on the environment, Movares managed to develop a business policy that led to the lowest carbon footprint of all the large engineering agencies of the Netherlands.

Movares is responsible for advisory and design of infrastructure and mobility. The organization has 1.000 employees that primarily work for government institutions to develop and maintain infrastructure. “Our company is active in the infrastructure sector in which the CO2 Performance Ladder became a widely known and applied instrument to secure sustainability and emissions reduction”, says Pieter Boon, advisor and project leader at Movares. Along with Carel Deckers, advisor of Quality, Safety and Environment, Boon is responsible for the implementation of the CO2 Performance Ladder in the organization.

The CO2 Performance Ladder as a driver for the next step in sustainability

Back in 2010 the engineering agency started its first certifying trajectory on the CO2 management system. Movares decided to implement the ladder, because of its strong policy to decouple business growth with environmental impact. Another reason for the Ladder to be implemented in the company, is because of the commissioning parties that request contractors to act upon sustainability within projects. For these reasons, Movares became one of the first engineering agencies that obtained a certificate on the CO2 Performance Ladder. The company claims that the CO2 management system has continuously contributed to the reduction of its carbon footprint.

One of the first projects that Movares had won with the implementation of the CO2 Performance Ladder, was an evaluation of the environmental effects of the so called Betuweroute. This project consists of a railway of 172 kilometers in length, that is specifically designed for freight transport. As an engineering agency, Movares was responsible for the research on the environmental effects of this railway route, which includes effects of sound, movement, landscape and ecological development. The engineering agency had won the tender for this project partly due to its certificate on the CO2 Performance Ladder at the highest level.

“Naturally, we find it important to be the frontrunner of CO2 reduction. It is however not an easy task to distinguish the organization from its competitors by using the Ladder, mostly because all the other large engineering agencies have also implemented the management system at the highest level”, says Boon. “The management instrument helps us to streamline our policy on sustainability. Furthermore, the Ladder provides us with a great advantage in tendering processes and consortia. This is why we make it our priority to maintain our certificate on the CO2 Performance Ladder at the highest level.”

Opportunity and risk based approach

As an engineering agency, Movares can make a difference by working towards sustainability in its projects. The company developed a CO2 reduction program, in which project managers are encouraged to advise their clients to take sustainability and CO2 reduction measures. In order to properly advise their clients on sustainability, the project managers at Movares can request assistance from a group of advisors and sustainability experts from within the company. These experts work in different departments of the organization. “Movares has developed a plan with three steps. The first step is to calculate the expected carbon footprint of the project. Based on this calculation, the project managers can think of effective measures that minimize the carbon emissions”, says Boon. “These measures will then be introduced to the client or commissioning party. In the last step of this plan, the client decides whether or not to apply these measures.”

“The CO2 Performance Ladder requests organizations to gain insights of the carbon emissions resulting from projects. We notice that this is not a simple request. This request becomes complicated when we take a look at the different types of projects of Movares. Our projects range from infrastructure design to updating security software of railways. It is especially challenging to reduce CO2 emissions in projects of small scale, such as the software updates. The only measure we can take to reduce carbon emissions in most smaller scale projects would be to implement sustainable transportation”, Boon says. “For large scale projects, such as the design of railways or bridges, it is more rewarding for us to calculate our carbon footprint and to decide which measures will be taken to effectively reduce the emissions.” The advisor therefore suggests an approach of CO2 reduction based on risks and opportunities to achieve the highest amount of emissions reduction. “Projects that result to the greatest environmental impact should prioritize insights in carbon footprint and emissions reduction. Other projects that only have a small impact on the planet should not focus too sternly on insights in carbon footprint.”

Initiatives on sustainability are more accepted

Movares delivers advise to reduce carbon emissions based on the expected CO2 levels of projects, which the engineering agency has been awarded due to the implementation of the CO2 Performance Ladder. The company notices that clients and commissioning parties are adapting a positive attitude towards their proposals of reducing the carbon footprint of projects. “Clients and commissioning parties have in the past been more inclined to take measures based on cost savings and risk aversion than measures based on sustainability or climate goals. This has changed over time. More and more clients tend to emphasize sustainability in their projects. Our clients also realize that when they prioritize sustainable practices, they need to provide their contractors with plenty of opportunities to come up with the greatest solutions to minimize climate impact. Commissioning parties also tend to not implement the Ladder in projects that have a smaller impact on the environment.”

Rewarding the frontrunners

Movares translates its organizational values on sustainability to its purchasing and transportation policy. "More than 80 percent of our staff travels to work by making use of public transportation”, says Deckers. “With our sustainable transportation policy, we distinguish ourselves from other engineering agencies in the sector. This policy managed to drastically diminish the carbon footprint of our commuting employees. We encourage our employees to make more use of public transportation and at the same time, we discourage the use of petrol and diesel vehicles. For the 1.000 employees of Movares, there is a total number of 100 lease cars in use. Part of the lease cars that our employees use are electric.”

“Compared to other large engineering agencies in the Netherlands, Movares is strongly focused on government institutions as their clients and commissioning parties”, Boon continues. “Government offices are often established in locations that are easily accessible by public transportation. This too contributes to minimizing our carbon emissions. Next to that, we have chosen to build our office buildings and facilities on locations that can easily be accessed by using public transportation.”

Boon finds it essential to reward frontrunners of sustainable practices. “The CO2 Performance Ladder demands continuous improvement. Based on our organizational policies, we now have limited opportunities to improve towards sustainability, because we already took a great number of effective measures in that regard. Organizations that are less focused on sustainability can make more progress with sustainable practices than an organization that is already progressive when it comes to climate goals. That is why the CO2 Performance Ladder should focus on rewarding the frontrunners.”