Making business premises more sustainable: that is something that many entrepreneurs would like to do, but it often hinges on figuring out who, what and how. Voortaan Duurzaam is a party in Groningen that thinks collectively and sells 'saving energy'. Moreover, they completely unburden their clients thanks to strategic partners. After two years of working on the basics, the company is now investing - with funding from the NOM - in expanding sales, in order to get through to the market.
Contributing to sustainability and also significantly lower or even zero energy costs: nobody says no to that. A lot is possible, but that is the bottleneck for many entrepreneurs,' says Erik Tack, general director of Voortaan Duurzaam. 'Just see the forest for the trees. On top of that, we are in a transition phase where there is a lot of talk about sustainability, but concrete action is lagging behind. This is also due to unfamiliarity with new technologies. Solar panels are becoming more common, but people are still nervous about heat pumps, for example, and entrepreneurs often have no idea how much energy they can save.
Power of collective
At Henceforth Sustainable, saving energy is the starting point of the business. 'Plus the fact that we completely unburden customers,' Erik emphasizes. 'They don't have to do anything themselves. Just invest time in a no-obligation conversation to hear how we work. Because explaining our concept is important. We do not sell solar panels or energy contracts, we offer a total package: from expert advice to arranging funding and implementation. We know the subsidy possibilities, work together with the provincial energy offices and also have partnerships with regional parties that provide the technical installations. In short, we oversee the complete process and, together with our partners, we can offer customization within the strength of the collective.
That collective thinking is in the company's genes. For almost twenty years, in fact, because behind the still young Voortaan Duurzaam are entrepreneurs who have set up various forms of business based on collective purchasing advantages. 'We merged a number of BVs in 2017 to form the company Doen wij wel,' Erik explains. 'Our strength lies in marketing and sales, where we look á la Vereniging Eigen Huis for benefits that we can give back to the group. Over two years ago, we had a lot of leads around sustainability and we delved further into that. This is how Voortaan Duurzaam came into being. With the aim of helping companies reduce their current energy consumption to zero.'
Working toward zero
'Zero on meter is not achieved overnight,' the director knows. 'But we do commit to direct cost savings. If that's really not feasible, we'll also say so honestly. The punchline is that there are forms of funding possible in which you work toward an energy-neutral system in x number of years. Instead of paying structurally high energy costs, you can pay off a (partial)
loan. So there is an end point. How high the direct savings in monthly costs will be depends on the situation and varies from a few tens to hundreds of euros per month. But you always work toward zero, both in consumption and costs. Anyone curious about the ratio of investment to savings can see a number of calculations from recent projects on our website.
Voortaan Duurzaam works throughout the Northern Netherlands and focuses on all types of business premises, from service providers to agricultural companies. 'The fact that office premises of one hundred square meters or more must have at least energy label C from 2023 will undoubtedly mean more work for us,' Erik expects. 'Many entrepreneurs find this 'hassle' and our strength lies in unburdening them. With our total package, customers take the step to implementation more easily. No one is obliged to follow our advice, but entrepreneurs engage us precisely because they want to realize an energy-neutral business premises. And that is a lot easier if they can arrange everything through us.
The fact that Voortaan Duurzaam acts as a director throughout the process and works with good partners was reason for NOM to provide funding for growth. 'That total care is a big plus,' says Investment Manager Klaas Kooistra. 'From technology and service to funding, they offer complete arrangements and that's where this company stands out. The basis is in place and in order to properly roll out this concept in the market, expansion is needed. We are happy to contribute to that investment.' Managing director Erik is pleased with NOM as a partner. 'This funding allows us to move faster with the market. Moreover, it is a boost that we have passed NOM's critical filter. Of course, their large network is also a plus, precisely because working with good regional partners is essential for us.'
Thinking from the strength of the collective, the entrepreneurs behind Henceforth Sustainable remain keen on opportunities for savings on the road to sustainability. 'We follow developments closely and realize that green ambitions are mainly realized if they also produce immediate results. For the future, we also see opportunities, for example, in converting flat roofs into small power plants, so that business owners can earn money by supplying energy back. Or storing it for themselves.
These are still wild plans, but by thinking outside the box, we can create business and give benefits back to the group. Moreover, we like to take work off people's hands, so that they can focus on their own core business. So at Voortaan Duurzaam the motto is: we'll do it.