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Sustainability for clients

As consultants on energy issues, Unica network company Hellemans Consultancy assists organisations in their sustainability goals and reducing their CO2 footprint, cutting back on energy use and achieving savings in the energy procurement process. In the field of energy procurement Hellemans Consultancy is the market leader in the Netherlands. As a strategic broker, Hellemans Consultancy advises organisations on which products are available from energy suppliers to meet sustainability ambitions according to the best possible conditions. In that capacity, Hellemans Consultancy is involved in energy procurement with a combined portfolio value of € 5 billion.

With its specialist skills, Hellemans Consultancy advised a collective gas tender for the Green Metropolitan Region Arnhem-Nijmegen, consisting of 16 municipalities, at the start of 2022. For its energy consultancy services, Unica Energy Solutions was awarded the BRL 9500 certificate in the spring of 2022. This certification allows the company to operate as Official Energy Performance Advisor and to prepare energy labels for buildings (offices and homes) according to the NTA 8800 method.

The geopolitical unrest, recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and a series of climate factors resulted in a disrupted energy market in 2022. This in turn led to a major upturn in energy prices. The fact that the energy market has been relatively stable over the past few decades meant that many organisations suddenly found themselves in serious difficulty due to the higher prices they were forced to pay to extend their energy contracts. Price rises are one element over which Hellemans Consultancy has no influence. This makes it almost impossible to mitigate the impact for clients when their energy contracts expire. Due to the higher costs, many organisations had less capacity to finance sustainability measures, despite being convinced more than ever of the strategic importance of energy. This will have a knock-on effect on further investments in structural sustainability measures that are expected to be implemented in the coming years.

In terms of day-to-day operations, almost every new project has a sustainability component. In some cases this relates to large applications, such as at the Rijnstate Hospital in Elst, which is the first hospital in the Netherlands to use hydrogen as its primary energy source. The entire energy system for the new build in Elst is designed according to that principle. Unica is involved in realising this project as a technical specialist. Unica also designs and manages its own energy supply facilities, for example the power plant with CHP developed by Unica Energy Solutions at ViVa zorggroep.

Innovation and technology also contribute to improved sustainability. Efficient access control and remote management for example mean fewer transport movements, which above all results in considerable indirect sustainability benefits. A calculation of the advantages was included in a tender procedure for PwC, in which the sustainability benefits of remote management are quantified. Another example of a broader vision on the opportunities for sustainability is a trial that uses sports pitches as a source of heat. The field collectors installed in the artificial turf capture solar energy to supply a heat pump which heats the club house.

The energy price is not the only area of interest. For sectors or companies with high energy consumption, security of supply is a fundamental risk factor. Grid congestion in the energy infrastructure and the imbalance between the moments at which energy is generated and consumed, are strategic topics for many consumers or new market entrants. Unica develops solutions to help its clients manage these aspects. In collaboration with the industrial specialists at Unica Industry Solutions and external party Sympower, for example, an energy installation was connected to the emergency power pool of grid operator TenneT. The FlexPower solution developed by Unica Energy Solutions combines hardware and software systems to monitor the energy market. It can also contribute to a more reliable electricity network and a better balance between supply and demand. FlexPower monitors the electrical assets of companies and utilises the flexibility in processes in combination with local power generation to better balance the Dutch electricity grid.

Together with its partners, Unica offers a wide range of sustainable solutions and expertise. As the developments in sustainable technology make it increasingly complex to maintain a clear picture of all applications, all the sustainable and circular solutions available from Unica have been placed in the ‘Sustainable Procurement Database in 2022.

Together with its clients and supply chain partners, Unica is becoming increasingly aware of how circularity works in practice. One excellent example is the circular market place developed with all suppliers involved in the contract currently being completed by Unica on behalf of Rijkswaterstaat. Together with wholesale supplier Rensa, Unica is achieving major advances in the field of reconditioning. Electronic and mechanical components replaced during maintenance and breakdown repairs can now be given a second life, thanks to the reconditioning specialists at Inexeon. Unica is also examining the possibilities of large-scale material reuse in its primary processes: in 2022, an intern conducted a preliminary investigation into how Unica can stand out against the competition in the building process with the support of urban mining.