We want to create sustainable added value with our projects – for cities and the people who live there!
“Our sustainability ambition goes beyond material choices and progressive standards: we take our full responsibility in everything we do, to make cities more humane, greener and nicer to live in.”
Areas of action
We believe that our long-term success is inextricably linked to the value that we provide to society. Together with Future-fit Ciril is helping build a society that is ecologically restorative, socially fair and economically inclusive. Where possible, we also strive to eliminate the negative effects of what we buy, produce and sell. All these measures combined ensure that companies work together as a force for good.
Ciril is also determined to play a part in this: most buildings in the construction and development sector depend on activities that have a major negative impact on the environment in the value chain. The production of traditional building materials emits large amounts of greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change. Moreover, many building materials are made from non-renewable raw materials. Ciril wants to change this.
The building industry plays a crucial, societal role in living, working and leisure. But the industry also has a sizeable impact in terms of resource use, waste generation and power consumption.
Therefore, Ciril has defined a set of sustainable areas of action that we deploy across our operations and business. Our efforts focus on 3 pillars: areas of action, responsibility, and circularity. Besides the intrinsically positive impact of our projects, these are strategic learning areas that we are continually working on, in order to reduce the impact of building activities on natural resources and to restore natural ecosystems.
39% of global carbon emissions today come from buildings, mainly from older and poorly insulated buildings using fossil fuels. The renewal of building stock is therefore essential in the fight against global warming.
At Ciril we develop new buildings according to the high NZEB standards. NZEB or nearly zero-emission building are buildings that are very well insulated and use minimal energy for heating, ventilation, cooling and heat. Any necessary energy mainly comes from green energy sources thanks to solar panels and heat pumps.
Just like with biodiversity in nature, a city functions best when it is diverse. Lively places where different functions such as living, working, relaxing and shopping come together – and where young, old and different groups can meet and interact.
At Ciril we focus on urban development with mainly mixed projects: within our developments, we combine apartments, retail and offices into lively places where you can live with all amenities within reach. By building both smaller and larger units, we make sure these projects are accessible to all kinds of people. And because we provide everything nearby, residents are encouraged to walk and cycle much more often, without the need for a car.
We always incorporate plenty of green outdoor space in our developments. From terraces to gardens, from green roofs to neighbourhood parks: we make the city greener with every new project. This not only makes our projects more pleasant for both residents and the neighbourhood, but also ensures that they are climate adaptive.
Green zones contribute to the city's bioclimate and are resistant to heat stress: they provide cooling on hot days and lower city temperatures. By planting smartly, we also increase the biodiversity of insects, birds and bees in the city. We are also committed to recuperating as much rainwater as possible via roofs and wadis: green buffers that delay infiltration in case of heavy rainfall.
Sustainability starts with the planning of a neighbourhood: inner-city developments result in fewer distant journeys, fewer cars and more pedestrians and cyclists. This in turn reduces the impact of CO₂ on cities and improves the air quality in our residential areas.
With smart facilities, we ensure that there is nothing to keep residents from walking, cycling or taking public transport. A permanent storage unit for bicycles is standard in all of our projects! For trips by car, we’re increasingly using intelligent parking systems (such as rotational parking) to maximize the use of parking areas through extremely efficient parking management. We also provide charging facilities and dedicated car-sharing spaces wherever possible – making it easier for residents to drive ecologically!
We are certain that we can make a positive difference as a major player in the real estate sector. Our aim is to lead by example. That is why we have chosen to invest in research and evaluation: knowledge that we transform into innovative pilot projects to inspire other market players. But we also like to learn from our partners and participate in sectoral initiatives and development projects to reduce CO₂ and improve sustainability. As an industry, we can grow much faster together.
Belgian Alliance for Climate Action
Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity. Its consequences are already affecting societies worldwide on a daily basis. According to scientific predictions, the next ten years will be crucial, which means we must act now.
That is why Ciril has joined the Belgian Alliance for Climate Action: an alliance for and by Belgian organisations that take their climate ambitions seriously and strive towards scientifically substantiated goals. The members undertake to align their activities with the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement.
Ciril is a member of The Shift, a Belgian sustainability community. This platform unites various organisations around one common goal, namely to actively work towards a more sustainable economy and society.
We use the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a guideline to tackle the biggest challenges to our planet, people and prosperity. We have joined forces with other members and partner organisations to implement these SDGs and develop actions.
Voka Sustainable Entrepreneurship Charter (VCDO)
Voka helps companies to incorporate sustainable entrepreneurship in their DNA with the VCDO This pathway helps Ciril to implement an action plan with sustainable goals on the economic, social and ecological levels.
The charter has international roots: it was inspired by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. Ciril is working on the following aspects, as a compass for a future-proof, sustainable company policy:
- Proactively incorporating sustainable entrepreneurship in our company policy
- Formulating objectives and specific actions in line with the UN’s SDGs
- Reporting our results to an evaluation committee
- Additional communication about the actions we have implemented
On September 15, 2023, Ciril received the VDCO Laureate label from and was named SDG Pioneer. Read all about it here!
CO₂ Performance Ladder
The CO₂ Performance Ladder is a sustainability tool to help companies reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. In 2022, Ciril obtained the Level 3 certificate. To achieve this, we mapped our carbon footprint and focused on rational energy consumption, maximum energy savings, and new, sustainable energy sources across all of our business operations.
A detailed measurement of all our operations revealed that Democo Group emits 3,500 tonnes of CO₂ every year, 43% of which is from our fleet, 23% from machines and generators on construction sites, 16% from electricity, 12% from heating and 6% from waste. We want to reduce this together by focusing on scientifically substantiated goals, self-sufficient construction sites and the increased circularity of our projects. Our ambition for 2025 is to achieve an absolute decrease of 16% in our CO₂ emissions. The end goal is climate neutrality.
- We are lowering energy consumption on construction sites by reducing standby consumption to zero with smart timers and LED lighting.
- We are striving for green(er) energy consumption on construction sites by switching to electricity where possible – and getting as much energy as we can from renewable sources.
Our industry faces tremendous challenges to become part of a circular economy. Buildings will have to become circular: adaptable, versatile, convertible and expandable, with designs that can be disassembled to ensure that building materials and components can retain their usability and value. These challenges affect our industry as a whole and we undertake to do everything possible to tackle them.
What is circularity?
Circularity is a sustainable alternative to a traditional, linear process: the ambition to recycle and reuse as much as possible within the life cycle of buildings – both during the development process and during production, usage and end-of-life.
The principles of circularity can provide guidelines to harmoniously develop and improve for people, nature and the economy. A circular approach to development affects decisions throughout the lifespan of a development, from design to demolition: where do materials come from, how are they implemented and used, and what are the possibilities afterwards?
Even before the Belgian building shift, Ciril did not develop projects on undeveloped land. We redevelop and repurpose sites and give them a fresh start with new possibilities: circularity is therefore part of our DNA.
From the very beginning, we think about the future use of buildings and spaces. After all, sustainability also lies in adaptability. With this in mind, we design our building structures so they can remain flexible, with materials that are high-quality, sustainable and dismountable and leave our buildings and spaces open for repurposing and reinterpretation in a next chapter.
Turning back time
“Small decisions in the development process have a major impact on future possibilities! While designing and during construction we consciously consider the choice of materials and the way they are assembled. Different techniques can have the same immediate result, but a different impact on the future of the building and its materials.
A few examples: when possible, we use screws instead of glue. Interior walls can be removed in the future for a new layout. We also prefer dry-building instead of using screed. This way, every step can easily be undone in a next chapter of the building.”
Jan, project developer Ciril
Due to Ciril's specific focus on inner-city developments with attention to urban diversity, greenery and sustainable mobility, our projects have a minimal energy impact on the planet during their lifetime – and a positive impact on the city.
During the usage phase, our residents can enjoy a lower energy bill and local neighbours can often also enjoy extra greenery and new facilities nearby. With our focus on qualitative developments, both in design, materials and construction, we sustain a qualitative usage phase as long as possible.
Build and maintain
“Together with Ciril, we are developing a new branch of maintenance services. We’ve noticed an increasing demand for specialized maintenance and repair after the completion of projects.
By opting for a maintenance service, clients can avoid unnecessary defects and wear & tear. This improves both the quality of life of the residents and the sustainability of the installations. Because if something doesn’t break, it doesn’t have to be replaced!”
Patrick, technician Demtec Services
When repair or renovation is no longer an option, materials can often still be reused for new projects after demolition or recycled into new materials that can re-enter the cycle.
Building materials have an increasingly strong impact on construction costs and on the environment. That’s why, at Ciril, we join forces with our architects and contractors to find solutions to recover, reuse, repurpose or recycle materials.
For each project, we analyse the possibilities of a specific location and then consciously choose for new development, renovation or a combination of both. Before the demolition phase, we select all materials and installations that can be fully or partially repurposed together with our contractors. In this way, we are increasingly succeeding in turning demolition materials into raw materials for new usage.
From old to new
In the Jules Bordetlaan in Evere, Ciril is converting an old office complex into an eco-friendly residential building for 80 families: 'Le Jules'. But instead of demolishing the building and all of its components, we are gently reclaiming thousands of square feet of ceiling tiles, wall insulation, functional floors and carpet tiles, and dozens of light fixtures that we can reuse in new construction projects.
Several tons of wood, glass, plaster, metals, cabling and stone rubble are also carefully sorted to be made into new building materials. For Le Jules itself, dozens of light fixtures are recovered to illuminate 1,000 m² of parking. All materials are re-tested for strength and fire safety before being reused!