TEXT: TANYA VAN DER SPEK | PHOTOGRAPHY: ANTIM
Shared bicycles, shared electric cars, traveling by train. When it comes to clean air and a healthy environment, the dynamic RCD energy district is doing very well. Heading the pack are Coolblue, Greenchoice and Spaces who are inspiring others by setting good examples.
Anyone ordering a small package from Coolblue will probably have it delivered by bicycle. “We do our best to deliver packages that are smaller than a microwave by electric cargo bike. And recently, the bigger items, like TVs, are being delivered by a 100% electric van,” says Ottelien van Pelt, ‘conversation starter’ at Coolblue. And with an office so close to Rotterdam Central Station, it’s perfect. “We always say that it’s a stone’s throw from the station. Ok, ok, it’s a two minute walk.”
This was an important consideration when the award-winning online shop moved office from Capelle aan den IJssel to Rotterdam in 2015. The reason for the move was that the fast growing e-commerce company, that was once started by students, knows that it wanted to hire many ‘clever, young people’. “Our headquarters needed to be close to universities. Delft is nearby, Utrecht, Breda and Amsterdam are all really easy to reach. A lot of Coolbluers, just like me, studied at Erasmus University.” The company reimburses train tickets and has a bicycle scheme so that its employees can buy bicycles at discounts. “And if you have a meeting further away somewhere that’s less easy to reach, we have a few shared cars in the garage.”
Green the planet
‘Green the planet’ is the slogan of the energy supplier, Greenchoice. “With this above our heads, we have to set a good example,” says Elizangela Pinto, facilities team leader. The doormat is made of recycled airplane wheels and some of the chairs from recycled PET bottles. When Greenchoice moved into its historic building two years ago, it had an F energy label. “We turned it around and, after installing solar panels, improving the insulation and doing a few other things, we now have an A label.”
For its staff, 85% of whom commute using public transportation, Greenchoice has shared bicycles. Staff can travel for work and pleasure using the national railway’s NS business card that Greenchoice gives them. And should an account manager need to go to a meeting that is harder to reach, Greenchoice has an all-electric shared car. Does it use lease cars? “Yes, we have about 10 lease cars for 280 staff members, so we’re doing well! Our management is very strict. You must be able to prove that you really need it. And, of course, they are either hybrids or fully electric.”
These are great examples of sustainable mobility. The municipality and the RCD Association want to encourage shared electric cars and bicycles. Quirijn Oudshoorn, sustainable mobility advisor at the municipality says that “While the car use in Rotterdam has remained the same, the use of public transportation and bicycles have risen sharply.” Sustainability is a core theme in the development of an area. “We are installing more electric charging points, are discouraging street parking by using the garages we already have more efficiently, and there is a lower percentage of parking facilities in new property developments.” The municipality is also working on electrifying buses and on safeguarding the accessibility of RCD and keeping it a pleasant place to live.
“We want less air pollution, less car ownership and a better use of the outdoor space with more green and recreational facilities. I would like to encourage any companies that are in doubt to switch to shared cars. After all, most cars just stand still for 23 hours a day. Sharing cars can reduce costs and are fun. A shared car, preferably electric, lets you drive around in a great brand.”
The bicycle garage at Spaces Hofplein is bursting at its seams. “We have already had to add more bicycle racks,” says community manager Maxime Albrecht. Spaces offers work space for an international network of like-minded, entrepreneurial people. It has inspiring work spaces and a monthly calendar of business and cultural events, drinks and breakfast and lunch sessions.
Maxime continues: “Members and tenants can use a shared bicycle free of charge. Spaces is a Dutch company and we are now working internationally. We have always offered shared bicycles here and also do so in our international locations so that people can be Dutch and turn up to their appointments on bicycles. As they are so popular, I have ordered two more. It gives you flexibility to go to an appointment or do a bit of shopping if you don’t feel like walking.” As a service to its members and tenants, Spaces also offers parking spaces for Mobeazy in the garage. People who are members of Mobeazy can borrow a shared car. “Not only during office hours, but also in the evenings and weekends.”