“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.”


Pieter Vanhout, Managing Director Ciril

Responsibility

Nearly zero-emission

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.

 

City diversity

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.

 

Functional green

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.

 

Sustainable mobility

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!

 

CO₂ policy

CO₂ performance ladder

Sustainability is not only a central topic within our projects. As a part of Democo Group, sustainable principles are at the heart of our own business operations, with a big focus on reducing our carbon footprints. As a group of companies, we are mapping out our carbon footprint and focusing on rational energy consumption within every branch of our business, while striving for maximum energy savings and new, sustainable energy sources.

The CO₂ performance ladder offers us a targeted approach to reduce our CO₂ emissions within our entire business chain. For each step of this ladder, clear requirements are defined for the CO₂ performance of our organization and projects. Within Democo Group, both Ciril and Democo achieved level 3 of the five levels of the performance ladder in 2022 – a step towards our ultimate goal of climate neutrality.

More about the CO₂ performance ladder?

The CO₂ performance ladder is a sustainability tool of the SKAO (Foundation for Climate Friendly Procurement & Entrepreneurship) to help companies and governments reduce their CO₂ emissions, with the goal of achieving a climate-neutral business community.

The CO2 Performance Ladder offers a CO₂ management system: it requires continuous improvement of insight, reduction measures, communication and cooperation in business operations – within every project, but also within the business chain. You can find more information about the CO₂ performance ladder on the SKAO website.

You can find more information about the CO₂ performance ladder on the SKAO website.

 

Insight

To measure is to know! In order to purposefully reduce our carbon footprint, we need to have a clear and full idea of our emissions throughout the entire development process. When we know the actual impact of every choice and step on the way, we can reduce our footprint efficiently and across the board.

A thorough measurement of Democo Group’s activities in 2019 taught us that we emit 3,500 tons of CO₂ annually: 43% coming from our vehicle fleet, 23% from machines and generators on sites, 16% from electricity, 12% from heating and 6% from waste. Together, we aim to reduce these numbers by focusing on self-sufficient construction sites and more circularity in our projects.

 

Reduction

Within Democo Group it is our shared ambition to see an absolute decrease of 16% in our CO₂ emissions by 2025, compared to 2019. To achieve this goal, we want to electrify our fleet as much as possible. We also identified clear, achievable steps for our construction sites.

  • Lower energy consumption on sites by reducing standby power to zero with smart timers and LED lighting
  • Focus on green energy: since fuel oil emits 6x times more CO₂ than electricity, we are switching to electricity as much as possible – and we obtain as much energy as possible from renewable sources.

 

Curious about our goals and actions?

Transparency

All experts, stronger together! At Democo Group, we realize that we are stronger as a team, with every player knowing and taking their responsibility. This vision is also reflected in our reduction policy: we regularly inform our stakeholders and employees about the progress of our objectives and the concrete steps within each industry.

Our transparent approach ensures that everyone within Democo Group is aware of what we are doing to reduce our emissions and what everyone's part is in this mission. We make sure that all information about our objectives and step-by-step plans is available and up to date, for example via this website.

 

Participation

We are convinced that we can make a positive change as a major player in the real estate industry – not only with our own projects, but also by influencing those of our partners and competitors. We want to play a pioneering role in the real estate world. Democo Group plays a big part in research and evaluation, and converts that knowledge into innovative living lab projects that can inspire other players.

As a sector, we can grow faster together than alone. We learn from our partners and participate in sector-wide initiatives and development projects related to the reduction of CO₂ emissions. By sharing a sector-wide vision on sustainability, we can build the future together!

Initiatives we support

Circularity

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?

 

Production

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.

Flexible development

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

Usage

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.

Life-prolonging maintenance

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

End-of-life

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.

A new life for 9,000 m² of floor and insulation

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!