“This World Green Building Week is, for me, about sharing the message of inclusivity,” says Wijnand Bruinsma, Director of Sustainability at AkzoNobel. “Building for everyone. It’s such a down-to-earth theme that invites us all – individual people, companies and communities – to go on a sustainability journey together.”
AkzoNobel is an industry leader, active in 150 countries, offering paints and coatings for all types of building projects. A wide-range of products can be found anywhere from brand new, green-certified high-rises in major cities to renovated residential buildings in remote areas.
“People. Planet. Paint. lies at the heart of everything we do,” says Bruinsma. “As a company, we’re focused on three key sustainability topics: climate, circularity and health and well-being.
“For such a thin layer, some of our paints and coatings play an important role in green buildings,” he continues. “Some paints and coatings can reduce buildings’ carbon footprint, both in the construction and use phases. Some can make buildings more circular. And others can improve the well-being of people spending time in buildings – here I’m referring to products like our Dulux Forest Breath Anti-virus which protects against several viruses and types of bacteria or Coral Well-being Protection Anti-Mosquito which repels disease-carrying mosquitos in Brazil.
“You might be surprised to learn that paint can do these things. We tend to think of paint as primarily for making surfaces look nice or protecting them from the elements. But a number of our products can actually do so much more – at AkzoNobel, we think of them as having ‘superpowers’. Building for everyone means putting these superpowers into everyone’s hands.”
Bruinsma says that improving the sustainability of the whole built environment takes a range of solutions for both new and existing builds. That encompasses commercial, industrial and residential buildings in different environments all around the world.
In many cases, sustainable solutions also bring financial benefits to applicators, owners and building users. Bruinsma says: “AkzoNobel’s cool chemistry products reflect the sun’s energy, reducing the energy needed to cool buildings in the summer. That not only reduces the building’s energy consumption and carbon footprint, it also reduces the energy bill – now that’s what I would call a superpower.”
Many architects and specifiers looking for green certification find the company’s low emitting products helpful in improving air quality. Other innovative solutions – like the cool chemistry products mentioned above – help reduce the heat island effect in urban areas. And environmental product declarations offer material transparency to customers comparing product options.
“What is clear is that sustainability and green building are now everybody’s business,” says Bruinsma. “Collaboration is key. We’re inviting all our partners in the value chain to jointly develop and implement new solutions to decarbonize buildings, increase circularity and improve well-being.
He adds: “A very recent example is our Collaborative Sustainability Challenge 2022 – a 24-hour event to ‘hack the system’ with our strategic partners. Part of our Paint the Future initiative, the idea behind it is to collectively achieve our targets faster through collaborative innovation.”
Many AkzoNobel innovations are the result of collaborative work. The ENVISION project, nominated for a European Sustainable Energy award from the European Commission, is a 9-partner effort to capture solar heat from all parts of a building. And to make Dulux Evolve, a professional quality paint made with 35% recycled paint content, AkzoNobel teamed up with a large waste collection and recycling company.
Bruinsma notes how important it is for all companies to have clear sustainability ambitions in place. Two of AkzoNobel’s ambitions are directly linked to sustainable buildings: 50% carbon footprint reduction in the whole value chain and 50% of revenue from sustainable sources.
“We’re fully aware that the only way to reach our carbon reduction target is through collaboration,” he says. “We’ve made a commitment to future generations and these strong ambitions help show others we mean it.
“This is my personal invitation to collaborate with us at AkzoNobel. Join us on the journey to make buildings greener and more sustainable. If you have a sustainable solution we could work together on, send us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
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