6 Dutch innovative projects for sustainable development you need to know about

When you google “Why are the Dutch so innovative?” you come up with a number of hits, most of which are from DutchReview (hopefully this one will be one of them soon). Go on, google it! So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that us international folks love the Dutch for the energy they bring into making innovative projects a reality. Even more exciting if it’s for sustainable development!

The Dutch and sustainability

First things first: how are the Dutch and how are they ranking with their sustainability? Being the fifth richest country in Europe, and always ranking high on the happiness indexes, you would expect the Netherlands to rank high even on the sustainability index. However, that’s not always the case.

In 2014, CBS, the national statistics office showed us that only 5.5% of all the energy used comes from renewable sources. A report from 2017 also showed us that the country’s then climate policies were not adequate to reach its targets according to the Paris accord.

However, since then, climate policies and lobbying have frequently come up on the political agenda. And thus led to the birth of the Dutch Climate Agreement. It has set out (ambitious) goals to reduce “the Netherlands’ greenhouse gas emissions by 49% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels”.

Will their ambitious goals be met? That is certainly up for debate. Environmental agencies like Greenpeace and Milieudefensie are very sceptical on their plans and call them too vague. It is certainly commendable that they have set the agenda to this, but how are they actually going to implement it? That’s yet to be seen.

But for now, let’s look at few of the Dutch innovative projects for sustainable development that they have going on! From creating hemp houses which could possibly be a solution to the housing crisis to manufacturing fake meat which looks and tastes like the real thing, here are my picks for six Dutch innovative projects for sustainable development that need to be noticed!

#1 Rhenus warehouse building: The most sustainable building in the world

Could a warehouse distribution centre ever be newsworthy? This one sure can!

The new Rhenus warehouse building in Tilburg could be the most sustainable building in the world. It has 13,000 solar panels on the roof to power the centre, large triple glazed windows, they use rainwater to flush the toilets, and are attempting to re-establish the local flora through landscape design. This warehouse will act as a distribution centre for Rhenus logistics and is located at ‘Het Laar’, the industrial area in Tilburg.

Rhenus warehouse in Tilburg
Image: Rhenus B.V.

#2 Dutch innovative projects: Is that a bus stop? Nope, that’s a bee stop!

Utrecht city turned 316 bus stops into something a whole lot more special – they turned the roofs of the bus stops green so that bees can find a cosy temporary home there while they make their pollination rounds. The roofs have been planted with wildflowers and grass so that different kinds of bees will come around.

They might sting, but they’re an integral part of the ecosystem so feign your fear here, folks! Because these roofs are not just for them, but for you too – they store rainwater, catch some fine dust and helps in cooling down the bus shelter.

A bee stop in Utrecht
A bee stop in Utrecht. Image: Samantha Dixon

#3 How high can you go? The first prefab hemp house was built in the Netherlands!

The Dutch and innovative use of cannabis – they might not be the first ones, nor are they the only ones. The Dun Agro Hemp Group has come up with a way to use hemp to make a prefab for a hemp house. They claim this to be more sturdy (being able to withstand earthquakes), and more affordable!

They make this using hemp to make “hempcrete”. It is a strain of cannabis which is a whole lot tougher than we thought. It is already used to make other things like clothes and bio-fuel, so why not a whole house? It is also a “carbon-negative” material, where it takes on 13,500 kilograms of CO2 while it grows, and does not emit even close to that number back into the atmosphere. This CO2 that is built up in plant is then used to make the hempcrete. This would be sustainable development at its finest if these houses are made in a large-scale.

But sorry to disappoint for anyone who thought they could get a lifetime supply of weed – there’s no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in hemp, the element in cannabis that gets you high. So how high can you actually go? Not that high, I’m afraid.

#4 Food Valley in the Netherlands is trying to find ways to feed 11 billion people

If you haven’t heard about Food Valley in the Netherlands then get reading! It is a collective that is established in the university town of Wageningen that is working towards the ambitious goal of providing “food-related solutions” to end the food crisis and help combat climate change.

8000 scientists and 1800 agrifood companies have come together to work on multiple projects like creating fake meat which looks and tastes like the real thing, bringing insect-based diets into the mainstream, genome mapping, and more. If you want to know more, check out our article on it (????) or go to their website! They have many exciting projects lined up.

#5 The Netherlands is home to the largest and most powerful offshore wind turbine in the world

The world’s largest and most powerful offshore wind turbine has been installed in Rotterdam and they are all set to test it out in the next five years. The Haliade-X 12 MW is designed to be set up at sea, where the winds are stronger and blows more often. In general, larger wind turbines create higher energy at lower costs as compared to the ones that are extensively used right now. This testing period will also help TNO research on how to build more of these large turbines.

#6 Solar-powered bus station? Yep, that’s a Dutch innovative project too!

Apparently, innovative bus stations is where it’s at in the Netherlands! This one is a completely solar-powered bus station in the city of Tilburg and it’s an architectural marvel to behold as well.

Built by Cepezed Architects, they went for a more minimalistic design with a triangular shape and open space in the middle. It also has an awning covering it to protect you from the harmful UV rays emitted by the sun. The solar panels, which span 250 m2, are placed on top of this awning.

solar-powered bus station at Tilburg
Dutch innovative projects: a completely solar-powered bus station in Tilburg. Image: Lucas van der Wee/cepezed

Lots of exciting Dutch innovative projects happening in the Netherlands! As you can see, these are all individual projects that are not yet implemented on a larger scale. What do you think the Dutch government can do on a large scale? Are there any projects you would like to see added to this list? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature Image: PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay

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