Celebrating World Green Building Week

Helping to create sustainable buildings for everyone, everywhere

To kick off this year’s World Green Building Week, our Director of Sustainability, Rinske van Heiningen, explains why AkzoNobel is so committed to playing a key role in the transformation of the construction industry.

Today (September 21) marks the beginning of World Green Building Week 2020. It’s an opportunity for us – as the sustainability leader in the paints and coatings industry – to celebrate our commitment to creating sustainable buildings for everyone, everywhere.

The World Green Building Council’s (WGBC) strategy aims to transform the construction sector across three strategic pillars: climate action, health and well-being, and resources and circularity.

At AkzoNobel, we’re committed to empowering people, reducing our impact on the planet and consistently innovating to bring sustainable paints and coatings solutions to our customers and partners. As a member of the WGBC, we’re proud to endorse their 2020-2022 strategy.

What makes a building green? What do you think about when you hear the term “green buildings”? Is it the positive impact they have on the environment? The ingenuity and imagination behind their design? Or maybe it’s the way they incorporate the use of innovative new products (something we know a thing or two about)?

All of these naturally spring to mind, but there’s one aspect of the shift towards more sustainable building that doesn’t always receive the attention it deserves – the well-being of the people who live and work inside those buildings.

It’s surprising really, given that buildings are obviously constructed for people to occupy. So it makes sense that we should focus more on the effect they have on our health, productivity and efficiency.

From an occupational perspective, there’s certainly a growing body of research which indicates that working in a green building is good for our health and well-being. For example, studies show that increased daylight, improved ventilation systems and reduced glare from the sun and artificial lighting can all lead to improved building use satisfaction levels and help employees to feel healthier and more productive.

One particular report – Doing Right by Planet and People: The Business Case for Health and Wellbeing in Green Building – published by the World Green Building Council, found that employees prefer and work best in spaces with ample natural light and access to greenery and amenities.

The report also states that after adding health and well-being features into green-certified buildings, companies found that employee absenteeism was reduced, operating costs were minimized and employees felt more productive and healthier.

We’ve experienced all these things for ourselves at the AkzoNobel Center in Amsterdam. Designed and built to meet exacting sustainability standards, it’s carbon neutral and has been awarded the international BREEAM Excellent certificate. We also make every effort to ensure that we embrace all the benefits that brings in terms of making our working environment a happier and healthier place to be.

The importance of this more human side of green buildings is further emphasized through schemes such as Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Green Mark for Healthier Workplaces and the Well Building Standard in the US, which rate buildings according to how wellness has been integrated into the built environment.

In fact, our Changi Business Park office building in Singapore has been awarded the BCA Green Mark in recognition of its environmental impact and performance. The building has a consolidated recycling system and has incorporated water and energy efficiency improvement plans that monitor carbon and resource consumption every month to encourage pro-active moves to ever more sustainable behavior. In addition, we have measures in place to minimize waste water in our labs, recycle all the packaging material for our laboratory consumables and track and monitor any waste we do generate.

As a company, we’re looking to make our buildings as attractive and sustainable as possible for our employees. So recognition schemes that focus on occupant welfare are a welcome sign that health, well-being and smarter working are becoming an integral part of green-building decision-making and not just an after-thought. Which is vital given the world we’re now living in.

From a business perspective, we’re acting on our commitments by driving innovation in the construction industry. We recently announced the expansion of our Amata site in Vietnam as part of our continuous investment in technology and capacity. The expanded site will house a “green manufacturing plant” for marine and protective coatings and adhesives coatings, with the implementation of a range of innovative sustainability features. These include solar power generation infrastructure (solar panel installations), rainwater harvesting systems and solvent recovery systems, as well as achieving high elimination of raw material packaging scraps through raw material bulk management processes and systems.

From our paints that create more hygienic indoor environments to our powder coatings that improve a building’s energy efficiency, our products with sustainability benefits lead the way. With 40% of our company revenue coming from sustainable products, it’s an opportunity for us as a global paints and coatings company to continue supplying the industry with an exciting range of sustainable products and technologies.

Stay tuned throughout the week to learn more about our contribution to achieving the WGBC’s ambition to provide sustainable buildings to everyone, everywhere.