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Column: Build Paris Proof

November 23, 2023

Author: Mark Compeer

In our office café NICE Place, we host groups at least two or three times a week for a so-called SAWA Experience. During these presentations we talk the blisters on our tongue by proclaiming that today you should only take up wood construction projects. The often very interested listeners are active at municipalities, are investors, housing corporations, or other developers and builders.

In principle, we tell you little new: by building in concrete, you emit CO2 out. If you build in wood, then you actually save more CO2 than you are emitting. In other words, you are building CO2 negative (which in turn is positive).

With SAWA we show that it is possible to stack ambitions. You can build in wood and you can build circularly and you can contribute to biodiversity and you can provide space where people can meet and live together and most importantly, you can combine this with medium-rent housing and even social housing.

And then, dear municipalities, investors, corporations, developers and builders, that is where you often go wrong. After all, these stacked ambitions are not "NICE to haves," they are "MUST haves"!

Let me address one of these values: Paris Proof building. We (yes you too) made a commitment in Paris to stay below the 1.5 degree temperature increase by 2050. The hard fact is that if we continue to build in concrete, we as a construction industry will already pass the 1.5 like limit in 2027! And in doing so, we are saddling our next generations with a major problem. Unfortunately, few parties are aware of this, let alone actively working on it.

At corporations, usually a few are responsible for timber construction, while the rest continue to build in concrete. Municipalities do not dare to require timber construction in tenders because the lawyers in the procurement department consider it "an above-legal requirement." Our colleague developers/builders proclaim nonsense that timber construction is 10%-15% more expensive than concrete construction and that it is really not feasible. We can no longer afford this attitude. As a company and as people, you are obliged to contribute to the Paris goals. In our industry, 2027 is tomorrow and that means we have to do everything we can today to reduce CO2 emissions as much as possible. Municipalities and corporations must change course and from now on only ask for Paris Proof buildings. Our fellow developers and builders must explain to their shareholders that they can no longer continue to maximize their profits at the expense of the climate. Timber construction is no longer more expensive than concrete construction, so what are we waiting for?

With SAWA, we are showing it can be done. SAWA is being built now and new NICE projects are on their way. So dear municipalities, corporations, fellow developers and builders: take your responsibility. Develop projects based on shared values, make them Paris Proof and build a better future for people and climate!

NICE Column Series

With some regularity, Mark Compeer writes a column about what concerns, inspires, amazes or disturbs him personally and NICE when it comes to developments and current events within their field. Mark kicks off the new NICE column series this week with an urgent call to municipalities, corporations, fellow developers and builders to open their eyes and choose Paris Proof building.

Want to learn more about Paris Proof building and the NICE Buildings concept? Make an appointment with NICE. Mail to pr@nicedevelopers.nl

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