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An economy where efficiency and sustainability go hand in hand; Biobased Economy. A logical vision of the future, where the Netherlands excels. Because the Netherlands is a nation of collaboration between industry, government, and universities. An economy moving away from fossil resources to renewable resources.

‘Environmentally friendly, promising industries are on the eve of a breakthrough.’ Gerhard Muggen, managing director of BTG Bioliquids

‘Our economy is effortlessly transitioning to one based on biobased products, without a loss economic activity.’ Robert Smith, CEO of Royal Cosun

‘Working together in the product chain allows us to develop commercially attractive biobased products.’Thijs Rodenburg, CEO of Rodenburg Biopolymers

Demonstration house to put bio-based construction on the map

The walls have been painted with linseed oil paint, the carpet is made from old fishing nets and the electricity is produced by plants. Everything in this demonstration bio-based house is sustainable and can soon be viewed at the Innovation Expo. This expo takes place every two years and provides a stage for innovative companies to showcase their projects. Through this initiative, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs – an initiator of the Expo – hopes to give the bio-based sector a helping hand.

According to Patrick Folmer, who was involved in completing the bio-based house for the event on behalf of Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), bio-based construction fits into the sustainability goals of the Dutch government. ‘Building materials made from biomass are a sustainable replacement for building materials made from fossil fuels. This is currently still a niche market, but it shows great potential. The growth of this sector is beneficial to the Dutch economy.’

Unusual collaboration

Different parties within the bio-based economy contributed to the building of the demonstration house. This included construction company ORGA Bouw, owned by Patrick Schreven. ‘This type of collaboration is not usual in construction,’ explains Schreven. ‘However, bio-based construction companies cannot take on the large, traditional construction companies alone and have realised the importance of working together.’ Schreven hopes that this project will promote the image of bio-based construction. ‘We want to demonstrate that you can still build in a contemporary style using wood and other natural materials. Bio-based homes are not any lesser in terms of modern architecture compared to homes made of brick, but they are definitely more sustainable.’

The Green Deal ‘bio-based construction’ initiative

In 2013, the Green Deal initiative ‘bio-based construction’ was started to challenge legal obstacles. The Green Deal approach is an initiative by the Dutch government that promotes green growth and tackles social issues through collaboration with companies and stakeholder organisations. Schreven explains, ‘We have made some progress. The goal is to create a more even playing field and to promote the use of bio-based materials, products and building concepts.’

A revolution for construction

The bio-based house will be on display at the Innovation Expo on 14 April 2016. The house will then be exhibited at locations across the Netherlands. Folmer expects that the demand for bio-based materials will grow in the future. ‘We are about to experience a revolution in the construction industry. Dependence on traditional construction methods will decrease in favour of new, green techniques. Currently, the government still needs to play a role in promoting this method of building, but at some point the market will sell itself. That is when we will have achieved our goal.’

The complete version of this article appeared in Bouw Totaal, February 2016.

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