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Saving millions on technical innovative sustainability project

Apr 19 2024

An energy company initiates a technically innovative project with the aim of using heat from cooling water from a chemical factory to provide warmth for greenhouse cultivation. A beautiful sustainable solution.

The maximum budget is 50 million euros for the technical installation; pipes need to be laid in the ground, and various connections need to be made.

After some calculations, it turns out that 100 hectares of working greenhouses need to operate for 10 years to break even.

The business case is finalized, and excavation work begins. Once the 50 million is spent, it becomes apparent that persuading growers to settle in the area is not going well. Lower heating costs do not prove to be the best motivation to persuade growers. The investment is made, and the payback period was based on 10 years of full occupancy of 100 hectares of greenhouses.

The engineers don't know the solution. Lowering heating prices to persuade growers is not an option because it would extend the payback period even further. And the interest on the loans keeps accumulating.

There's one thing the technicians didn't take into account: Growers are also people with emotions and families.

But how do you, as an engineer, incorporate emotional arguments into a technical business case? That's a huge blind spot that is preferably ignored.

Despite the many hours of work, entrepreneurs also have their own lives, families, and livelihoods. They won't just move to another area for a few euros less in energy costs.

So, how did I solve this with the client?

To persuade entrepreneur families to participate in the sustainable project, we leveraged the positive impact of heat reuse. By putting the entrepreneur and the family personally at the center as a solution to the gas and CO2 problem.

Many entrepreneurs are willing to be part of a solution to the climate problem if it's feasible for them. An entrepreneur who moves with their family to another area to contribute to a better future for their children is a completely different story than a few euros saved on energy costs.

For the entrepreneur's family, moving to a location with fewer social amenities is a much higher price. Convince them to participate by highlighting the impact of 'engaging in sustainability', acknowledging that it's a 'sacrifice'.

How? Focus on the social aspects that are barriers for the entrepreneur's family. And try to remove those barriers.

Because then perhaps 10 million euros and a lot of stress, unrest, and disrupted careers of those involved could have been saved.

Want to know how to remove those barriers? Send a message via the contact page.

Geschreven door: Sibren van der Burgt

Sibren van der Burgt

Na een studie aan de Kunstacademie in Den Haag heeft Sibren van 1996 tot en met 2004 bij de top-ontwerpbureau's van Nederland ervaring opgedaan met corporate klanten zoals NS, ABN-AMRO, Rabobank en Visa. In 1996 had hij de eerste website al in de lucht op sibren.nl.

Met zijn digital design-minded achtergrond helpt hij sinds 2005 bedrijven in de (software) technology, financial markets en maakindustrie om hun diensten on- én offline makkelijker te kunnen vermarkten.

Het team van de ontwerpstudio ontwikkelt samen met de klant een klant-overtuigings-strategie én realiseert de praktische invulling hiervan met marketing en design.

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