Interview BREEAM labels

Karel Brouns, advisor to the executive board

Q-Park's pioneering role

Making car parks more sustainable is one of the five PIs in Q-Park's CSR policy. A key factor here is membership of the Dutch Green Building Council (DGBC) where Karel Brouns is the Q-Park representative. Q-Park has already booked clear-cut successes with the DGBC. Karel explains: “Car parks form a major real estate segment. Q-Park asked the DGBC if they would work on a BREEAM certification for this. We have developed two beta versions of labels based on BREEAM, one for existing car parks and one for new construction. The DGBC is currently consulting the BRE about obtaining approval for the standardisation of these labels.”

But Q-Park is even more ambitious, say Karel. “We are active in ten countries, so we are aiming for the internationalisation of that label. We're working on this via the umbrella organisation, the Green Building Council (GBC), which is active in sixteen countries. The Netherlands is a strong leader within the DGBC, which is also a BRE licensee and with our position, we are therefore pushing for the international application of the certification. The label can then be adapted per country to the relevant regulations. The advantage of this is that the GBC in each country won't have to start the procedure all over again.”

Initial successes

Q-Park's pioneering role in the working groups is not surprising, says Karel. “We supplied a major part of the investment property expertise. Over the years, we have gained considerable knowledge about aspects such as lighting, ventilation and other equipment, as well as energy consumption. The working groups have concentrated on the nine key points of BREEAM that investment property must satisfy regarding sustainability. These include topics such as the environment, HRM, management, waste, and energy consumption. Within these topics, we have tailored the questionnaires to car parks. Q-Park wishes to certify a number of car parks according to the new BREEAM label. Already, many municipalities are asking for the beta version and many are including these questions in their tendering protocols for sustainable construction. This means that commissioning bodies, project developers and constructors will have to conform to these standards. So the beta version is already making an impact.”

Investing together

There are many ways to make car parks more sustainable; For new constructions, the developer can take these requirements into account from the beginning and arrange certification. For existing car parks, the emphasis is on management. “There is a general sustainability guideline, ISO 26000, but this is not a certification standard. The alternative, ISO 14001, is. Our company environmental plan contains corresponding actions, such as using environmentally friendly cleaning products, energy saving measures, securing oil tanks form leakage, working conditions, and leasing eco cars for company use. These aspects are all audited annually.”

Q-Park also leases car parks from third parties, such as municipalities, developers or investors. “We also talk about sustainability measures with these parties. When it comes to renovations, we want to consult about sustainable measures, so we can agree ‘green leases’. For example, if the investor invests in reducing energy costs, then the lessee, who also benefits from the investment, will contribute to the costs. It is in our interest that the leased property becomes more sustainable. Investors and municipalities have already started working on this. Within certain limits, of course, because if the lighting is only six years old, you're not going to scrap it. But after thirteen years you could easily discuss replacing it with LED lighting. Then we will share the cost of the investment.”