CO2-neutral in 2030: Facilicom Group goes for it and obtains certificate

Facilicom Group recently achieved level 3 on the CO2 Performance Ladder. The certificate is an important and logical step for the facility service provider in achieving a broader ambition: CO2 neutrality by 2030. Sustainability manager Tim Platteel: “The Ladder has enabled us to better map our CO2 impact. Now we can monitor it and of course reduce it.”

Facilicom Group is a Dutch family business with various subsidiaries under its care. The group, which now has more than 18,000 employees, is active in areas such as cleaning, security, catering, social work and home care.

Mapping CO2 impact

In 2017, the family business expressed the ambition to be completely CO2 neutral by 2030. Since then, hard work has been done to achieve that goal. Certification on the CO2 Performance Ladder was a logical choice, although it took some effort. When Facilicom Solutions (a subsidiary of Facilicom Group) wanted to work with the CO2 Performance Ladder, it proved difficult to determine the organisational boundary. After all, the company is a division of a larger, umbrella group. “That is why we decided to have the entire Facilicom Group certified,” says Platteel. “That was quite a special choice. Normally, certifications are arranged per division. Now we have done that as an entire organisation for the first time.”

The award advantage in tenders certainly played a role in that choice, he continues. But it wasn't the main reason. “We were mainly looking for a tool to map, monitor and reduce our CO2 emissions. Certification on the CO2 Performance Ladder helps with this. We now have a good idea of our CO2 impact, which makes it clearer which buttons we can/should turn.”

Support from the board

Certification as an entire concern was not always easy. It took a lot of effort to collect all the necessary data. “It is not complicated data, but because we are a large organisation, the data is spread out. Jesper Kloeke, junior energy consultant, had a lot of work to do, but we succeeded," says Platteel. “In addition, you have to keep a few balls in the air at the same time. You set objectives, initiate sustainability measures, meanwhile try to convince management of the following measures and include employees in the plans. It is a combination of planning and doing.”

Despite this, Facilicom Group succeeded in taking several sustainable steps in the past year. “That is largely due to support at management level. That is extremely important.”

Sixty electric cars a year

For Facilicom Group, the greatest CO2 reduction appeared to be achieved in the field of mobility. More than eighty percent of the CO2 emissions of the facility service provider come from the vehicle fleet (consisting of more than 2,000 vehicles) and the travel movements of staff. Most measures were therefore taken in this area.

For example, the family business NS makes Business Cards available to its employees, working from home is actively encouraged and tire pump stations have been installed at the offices in Rotterdam and Schijndel. “By keeping the tire pressure of our cars up to the mark, you quickly realize significant fuel savings.”

In addition, it purchases at least 60 electric cars every year, although that will come to 70 to 80 units this year. From 2025, every newly purchased passenger car must even be emission-free. Platteel: “I expect it will mainly be about electric cars, but hydrogen cars may also be an option by then.”

“It is especially important that we learn to look at mobility differently in the coming years,” he says. “That could also mean, for example, that we will buy far fewer cars and that we will encourage other forms of transport among our employees.”

Battery the size of a sea container

Because an increasing part of the vehicle fleet will be electric, Facilicom Group is also taking steps in the field of the required infrastructure and energy. For example, extra charging stations have been and will be installed at the various office locations and the installation of solar panels on the roofs of offices in Rotterdam and Schijndel is planned. “Due to the increase in electric transport, our (green) electricity needs are of course also increasing,” explains Platteel. “Then installing solar panels is a logical choice.”

In order to use the green energy from those solar panels as optimally as possible, Facilicom Group is also considering focusing on energy storage. “The quotes for a battery the size of a sea container are already ready.”

Buying green energy

The energy consumption of offices also forms an important part (17 percent) of Facilicom Group's CO2 impact. The head office in Schiedam is already almost energy neutral, thanks in part to a thermal storage system. But there is still a lot to gain at the other office locations, says Platteel. Purchasing green electricity is therefore an important spearhead for the coming years. “And we set energy label A as a hard requirement when renting new office buildings.”

An educational year

Partly as a result of the above measures, Facilicom Group was already able to considerably limit its CO2 emissions in 2020. That fell by 17 percent, from 17,994 tons to 14,954 tons. But 2020 was of course not a representative year, Platteel emphasizes. A large part of the reduction achieved was due to the corona crisis and the decreasing number of travel movements that accompanied it.

But 2020 was an educational year: “The positive effect of working from home and hybrid working became very clearly visible. The reduction in the number of travel movements was enormous, which had a positive effect on CO2 emissions. But our productivity did not suffer. This has really accelerated the discussion about working from home and flexible working. Our policy in that area is much more progressive these days.”

Level 4 or 5?

In the coming years, Facilicom Group will mainly focus on rolling out the aforementioned plans. "We started the train. Now it is important that he continues to drive," says Platteel. “But we are now also investigating the possibilities of going for level 4 or 5 on the CO2 Performance Ladder.”

“We hope to take increasingly ambitious steps in the field of sustainability,” he concludes. "For example, we are involved in the Green Business Club Waterweg, an initiative to make business parks greener. It is still in the future, but ambitious plans are already being made there, such as the construction of a windmill.”

Photo: Trigion is a subsidiary of Facilicom Group.