One of the big challenges ahead for the planet is over-population. It took us 10.000 generations to reach the current world population of nearly 7 billion, yet it will only take one generation to reach the 9 billion mark. In addition,more than half of the world population is living in cities. As a result of this, urbanization has become synonymous with increasing CO2 emissions and polluted air, and the need for taking care of our environment is more pressing than ever.
In the West-Star group, we have embarked on doing exactly this, and through our business within real estate we are now “going green” – not only as a figure of speech.
In an attempt to contribute to the reduction of CO2 in cities, the West-Star group has decided to embark on a green expedition in the core of the company – The Thornico Building in Rotterdam. The aim of the project was to transform the building into a green lung, and three projects were soon to be realized.
One project was to transform the rooftops of the two towers of the building from grey to green. With a ‘carpet’ of moss and succulent plants, the roofs now function as green filters trapping particulates and CO2, which has resulted in a considerable improvement in the air quality. As a further benefit, the sedum roofs also work as an excellent insulator leading to substantial energy savings.
Another project, which has literally given the Thornico Building a green profile, is the “Green Park”. The project includes covering the 5000 m2 façade of the car parking facilities of the Thornico Building with ivy, thus making a fully grown wall of green that has the same filtering effect as 200 mature trees. In fact it has become the largest vertical green wall in Europe, and consequently an inspirational source for sustainable thinking and a landmark for Rotterdam. Besides this filtering effect, the green façade also counterworks the urban heat effect in the city by reducing radiant heat, and relieving the overburdened sewer system, when rain water is retained to irrigate the plants.
Last but not least, the Thornico Building has had LED lighting installed, which is a far more energy efficient way to illuminate compared to the conventional lighting. By installing LED in most of the public areas of the building, West-Star is securing considerable energy savings.
In West-Star, these are three important steps towards a healthier environment, and the benefits of these steps will continuously be enjoyed by the company and its surrounding community. West-Start hopes that these initiatives will inspire others to tread the path to a greener tomorrow.
First Basket Event
On the 10th of June 2010, following months of planning and fine-tuning, the building of the GreenPark commenced and the goal to build Europe's largest green façade began.
The event celebrated the first baskets of the GreenPark. At this event several representatives from the Rotterdam municipality, clients and customers attended. The aim of the event was not only to mark the beginning of the green transformation of the THORNICO Building, but also to inspire others to think about sustainability.
At the event CEO of WEST-STAR Ronald Bouwens said: “As a real estate company in the heart of Rotterdam, I think we have a responsibility for the environment in the community that surrounds us. That is why we invest in what we call ‘going green’. We do this through our by now renowned green facade, our green roofs and for example, the led-lighting in the communal areas.”
The Greenpark was formally opened on Friday the 10th of September 2010. Among those present and speaking were such notables as owner and initiator of the project Christian Stadil, Alderwomen responsible for sustainable development Alexandra Van Huffelen, CEO of WEST-STAR Ronald Bouwen and Alexandra Countess of Frederiksborg. The official opening of the GreenPark was also done by the four aforementioned people.
The event was covered by several radio and television stations in addition to numerous newspapers.
During the opening, as a special attraction, a Skype connection with Danish Jalte Tin and his wife had been organized. The couple was traveling around the world on the first Skype worldtour with an electric car. We caught them via Skype when they were in the Goby desert in Mongolia.
The GreenPark is instrumental in reducing the overloaded sewer systems of Rotterdam, as the rain which falls on the car park roof is used for the irrigation of the plants.
West-Star Group has already taken great steps towards a healthier urban environment by transforming the THORNICO Building into the green lung it has become today. Besides these green initiatives, the building’s green rooftops have been accompanied by thousands of buzzing bees, who are accommodated in three separate beehives.
The three large bee populations on the THORNICO Building has become an important symbol of sustainable development in Rotterdam. In September 2013, the beehive was also visited by a special guest, namely the alderman of Sustainability in Rotterdam, Alexandra van Huffelen. The alderman’s visit was part of a sold-out tour, where signed up guests could follow Alexandra van Huffelen around in the city, as she introduced the sustainability portfolio of Rotterdam, of which the THORNICO Building is a natural part.
The fresh green environment with the fantastic view of Rotterdam has served as the perfect home for these hardworking bees, which has already led to a harvest of approx. 60 kg. of fresh, perfectly tasting and healthy Thornico Building Honey.. yum!