Blue Gate, gateway to a circular future

Page 1

Blue Gate gateway to a circular future

PART I | The Birth

Authors: Peter Garré Steven Beckers Dirk Van de Poel

Blue Gate gateway to a circular future PART I | The Birth


This book is about the story of Blue Gate. About

many transitions come together (the energy

the transformation of a brownfield site on the

and mobility transition, the circular economy

edge of the city of Antwerp into an eco-effective

and the digital transition, new forms of living

business park.

and working, new chains and food strategies,

It is about the potential of space and spatial


developments to provide an answer to current social challenges such as global warming, the

The ‘Blue Gate’ concept provides a gateway to

scarcity of raw materials and growing urbani-

this scalability.


With the sustainable transition in mind, cities and their built environments need to transform

Recent climate reports underscore the urgen-

at a rapid pace. For example, European cities

cy. We can no longer ignore the fact that the

are facing a ‘Renovation Wave’ on a large scale

sustainable transition is compelling and irre-

in the slipstream of the European Green Deal.

versible. Time is pressing and so this demands

Together with the population growth of cities,

urgent and scalable answers. We regard ‘space’

this sustainability agenda ensures permanent

as the necessary raw material for scaling up to

construction and infrastructure development

a sustainable economy and society. The use of

that requires a circular transition.

that space will help determine how we shape our future for generations to come. It is no co-

This mindset shift does not only take place in

incidence that space is the playing field where

the minds, but also requires physical space in


which a new, circular economy can develop.

but is anchored in the urban economic fabric.

There is also a need for physical space for the

For this very reason, a Blue Gate should prefer-

construction of new circular residential areas,

ably accommodate a wide range of economic

which in turn make room for the renovation of

activities. Of the prefabrication and assembly

older urban neighbourhoods.

of building components, a raw materials bank,

This urban circular dynamic creates a market

clean-tech development, water and energy

for the circular building contractor, for ser-

technologies, small-scale model industries,

vice companies and logistics hubs that will

city distribution, local food production and

function in a circular manner together with

processing, etc. Such new dynamics also pro-

the city. It offers space for sustainable inno-

vide an ideal breeding ground for knowledge

vation and local employment, for local food

institutions and learning and training facilities.

production and for local cycles of building

The innovative power of universities stimulates

materials, furniture, electronics, and so on.

the establishment of incubators, spin-offs and

A Blue Gate is born!

start-ups. Together with the regional labour market director, the construction sector can

A Blue Gate is the flywheel to get this circular

focus on specific vocational training for ‘green

dynamic going. As an eco-effective business

jobs’, while company work floors are the ideal

park, it looks forward to the ‘market’ that the

workplaces for learning. A project area such as

growing circular city offers. A Blue Gate there-

Blue Gate therefore always functions as a facil-

fore never functions separately from the city,

itator of real vocational workplaces.


A Blue Gate preferably develops on the out-

for knowledge institutions and training provid-

skirts of the city on derelict industrial

ers who support the transition with their ser-

sites, brownfield sites or railway yards that


are seeking redevelopment. The relocation of

Setting up an establishment on a Blue Gate

urban economic activities to a Blue Gate can

means opting for a stimulating environment

offer opportunities in clearing land for the con-

where companies look for short- and long-term

struction of new, circular urban districts and

win-wins towards a ‘sustainable world’. Such a

the renovation of older urban neighbourhoods

transition takes time and that is why a Blue

on a larger scale.

Gate offers a framework with tools and support

In order to realise this circular building agen-

as a roadmap for its establishments.

da, a Blue Gate is establishing builders around a hub where building materials are collected,

This book is about the story of Blue Gate Ant-

reused and reprocessed. This transhipment

werp. The development of the first Blue Gate

site is the flywheel that not only ensures circu-

business park, built on the banks of the Scheldt

lar buildings and neighbourhoods, but also the

in Antwerp. It is the result of a process that ma-

transition to a circular construction economy.

tures into an excellent wine. Many steps have already been taken, but not all challenges have

As this book will make clear, a Blue Gate is the

been realised yet. The road to continuous im-

ideal location for companies – large and small –

provement forms the roadmap for the future.

that want to implement the circular transition,

The establishments help set the pace and thus


form a ‘coalition of the willing’ in this circular transition. At the scale of the city, the site and the own company. With the explicit ambition to help scale up that transition.

Blue Gate Antwerp points the way to more and other Blue Gates. It is up to you, reader, to be inspired and to help scale up the space for a Blue Gate.


The creation of a Blue Gate; looking for synergies on and around the site in the context of the circular transition.



The Blue Gate  Concept CHAPTER 1

Blue Gate, Space for transition Houston, we have a problem! It is August and it is summer in Europe. But

These are images that typify the summer of

this summer is different. The position of the jet


stream has been causing variable weather and severe thunderstorms in our region for weeks

In the same month, the IPCC, the climate panel

now. In the southern parts of Europe, fierce

of the United Nations, raised the alarm about

forest fires are raging, leaving regions the size

global warming in a new report. This warming is

of a Belgian province impoverished. Accord-

happening even faster than previously assumed,

ing to the Italian Farmers' Union, Coldiretti, it

and human influence is ‘unambiguously’ decisive

will take 15 years for the vegetation to recover

in this, the report states. According to the IPCC

from these extreme fires. Further on, violent

models, we are heading for at least 1.5 degrees

storms create a deluge that engulfs villages

of warming in all scenarios. That one and a half

and drags cars into whirlpools like toys. Else-

degrees makes a world of difference. With every

where in the world, people are plagued by ex-

extra half a degree of warming, extreme weath-

treme heat waves, floods and more and more

er events will be more frequent and more in-

cyclones that do their ugly business. There too,

tense. But according to the Climate Action Track-

firefighters are fighting against advancing fire

er, with the current measures, we are still heading

and water.

for a global warming of 3 degrees by 2100.


Even more so than the roaring twenties, the coming decades will go down in history as the transition twenties.

The transition twenties The ‘burning platform’ on which we find our-

ducing and consuming, and the compelling

selves – and unfortunately this can be tak-

and urgent need for a sustainable transition.

en more and more literally – is still difficult to deny. We agree, along with a growing major-

But that transition to a sustainable society is

ity. The pandemic health crisis that hit us at

therefore by no means self-evident or acquired.

the start of 2020 also set off many flashing

It is a search for new structures, for new social

lights. The climate crisis, the banking and fi-

models, which we must translate into new hab-

nancial crisis, and now also the COVID crisis,

its and customs. Towards new economic and

make it clear that we find ourselves in a suc-

business models that take more account of the

cession of pivotal points. They express deep-

ecological limits and social needs of our plan-

er societal challenges that are more complex

et. This growing shift in thinking will determine

and larger than ever: climate change, resource

our actions in the coming years. The challenge

depletion, digitisation, demographic develop-

for any company, organisation or government

ments, social inequality and poverty, to name

will be to respond correctly to these sustaina-

a few. These wicked problems are not sepa-

ble system changes.

rate from one another. They in turn point to the unsustainability of the current way of pro-


Such a system change is complex and challeng-

panies can no longer just keep doing what they

ing. Transitions are taking place simultaneously

are doing. The transition process we are facing

in different areas. The energy and mobility tran-

challenges us to do this together.

sitions are the most visible, but other transition challenges are also emerging: hybrid working and new living patterns influence the real estate market; digital technology and smart applications are gaining ground in healthcare and

Blue Gate, more than a spatial location

education; local food strategies are emerging in the vicinity of cities; 3D printing will soon

We cannot ignore the fact that the sustainable

make everyone a prosumer. New regulations

transition is compelling and irreversible. As we

determine the future direction. They encour-

write this, another sobering news item is seep-

age the rethinking of business strategies and

ing in. The Pacific Islands will face an increasing

production processes, changes in consumer

frequency of natural disasters over the next

behaviour, new requirements for transport and

decade. The paradise island of Kiribati is the

building regulations, or permanently changing

first country to celebrate the New Year on 31

emission standards.  Technological develop-

December, but it may also be the first island to

ments lead system innovation, but in their slip-


stream cause inevitable disruption.

With this book, we want to go further than de-

Today’s disruptions are everywhere. In a survey

scribing the ‘sense of urgency’. We want to pro-

of CEOs, 82% say they are dealing with – or will

vide a gateway from which public and private

soon be dealing with – disruptive proposals for

actors can help build – and you can take that

new business models. That is why questions

quite literally – the necessary sustainable tran-

must also be asked about what a sustainable


revolution within companies and the organi-

sations themselves could look like. If we want

The Blue Gate concept opens this gateway. As

to be ready for the future – and also make it

this book will make clear in the following chap-

better – then governments, citizens and com-

ters, a Blue Gate is more than a mere spatial lo-


cation. We have developed both a sustainable

tablishments are both challenged and guided

place and a co-creating concept that wants to

in outlining and extending their sustainability

provide space for companies and governments

ambitions. The challenge here is to take that

to get ready for a sustainable future. As an

extra step that one could or would like to take

eco-effective business park, it has the express

towards a future-proof company. Here is also

intention to be a dynamic site where compa-

the direct link with the local, urban environ-

nies can collaborate as well as receive support

ment. In its design, a Blue Gate grid also con-

and guidance in making the sustainable transi-

tributes to the acceleration and scaling up of

tion. Or rather: sustainable transitions.

the circular and sustainable transition of the nearby city or city region.

Establishments register from the start to turn a Blue Gate business park into an eco-effective site. This is given shape, among other things, by the circular construction of the company building and the commitments regarding park management (as included in the establishment conditions). Based on a development plan, es-

A Blue Gate is the ideal place for forward thinkers and co-thinkers who want to proactively and passionately experience the sustainable transition.


Need for a circular transition Circular. The word has been used repeatedly in

It makes clear that a linear economy offers no

the preceding paragraphs. Not in the least be-

answer to this. So the era of industrial pro-

cause it is also such a determining factor in the

duction based on the depletion of raw mate-

design and operation of a Blue Gate. We would

rials is history. It is an approach that is com-

like to explain why.

ing under increasing pressure because of the

pronounced ecological and economic disad-

Researchers assume that humans have al-

vantages. The ecological disadvantage of this

ready used up one quarter of the total sup-

linear economy is that the production of goods

ply of rare natural materials. Depletion is near

comes at the expense of the productivity of our

for some raw materials. In fact, we cannot yet

ecosystems and is a disruption of our natural

predict which materials will be valuable based

capital. Fluctuating raw material prices, scarce

on future technological developments. But

materials, geopolitical dependence on different

we do know that without drastic measures,

materials combined with increasing demand

the annual demand of cities for raw materials

create uncertainties and a rapidly growing

and other natural resources will probably rise

economic disadvantage. This linear economic

from 40 billion tons in 2010 to almost 90 bil-

model is running up against its limits and is not

lion tons in 2050 .



The circular economy offers a format to continue to meet our needs within ecological limits.


It functions as an economic system of closed

The actions of one player influence other play-

loops in which raw materials, components and

ers in the ecosystem or the chain, creating in-

products lose their value as little as possible,


renewable energy sources are used and sys-

tems thinking is central.

Of course, it is impossible to achieve such a cir-

cular transition with a simple snap of the finger,

In a fully circular economy, there is no such

precisely because it requires a system change.

thing as waste, on the one hand through

In concrete terms, this means that existing rou-

minimising the use of raw materials and sub-

tines from the linear economy are discontinued

sequently reusing these raw materials to the

and new, circular business models and value

highest standards possible, and on the other

chains must be realised. Starting such an ex-

by reusing products and components as much

ercise as a business requires a framework and

as possible. This includes the smart design of

a ‘correct’ spatial context in which you are both

products and services in order to increase their

challenged to take the step as well as guided

lifespan, as well as the use of waste streams

with a supporting framework to be able to take

for the production of new materials. Just like

that step. This is the perfect playing field for a

raw materials and products, energy also lasts

Blue Gate.

as long as possible in a circular economy. We therefore feed the circular economic system with energy from renewable energy sources. Finally, a circular economy is also characterised by a network or system of connected actors.


A Blue Gate, Playing field for added value creation Unique playing field for ecoeffectiveness A Blue Gate is a business park that resolute-

smaller, so it takes longer for an ecological or

ly chooses to fit into the circular economy. It

social system to become overloaded2. Within a

also immediately determines the individuality

circular economy, we look for sustainability in

of a Blue Gate, in which both the development

increasing the eco-effectiveness of the system.

of the site and the establishments with their

Eco-effectiveness means not only minimising

economic activities are challenged to become

our negative footprint, but also maximising our

more sustainable and to make the circular

positive impact on the ecological, economic

transition. But what makes that difference?

and social system3.

The perspective on sustainability is different

In other words: as an eco-effective business

in a circular economy than in a linear econo-

park, a Blue Gate aims for added value creation

my. If we work on sustainability within a linear

by enhancing the capacity of our economic,

economy, we focus on eco-efficiency. We try

technological, ecological and social systems in

to cause as little damage as possible by mak-

a complementary and indiscriminate way.

ing our negative footprint as small as possible. Working eco-efficiently means we still have a structural negative impact, only we make it


Blue Gate stimulates economic added value

Because a Blue Gate is designed on the basis of internationally recognised standards, its performance can be benchmarked against that wider market, creating the possibility of reporting on this.

Thanks to the targeted use of tools such as the Carbon Risk Real Estate Monitor (CRREM), the WELL building standard (WELL) and the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM), we ensure that a Blue Gate forms a high-performance cluster that couples the well-being and health of users to ecological and economic sustainability.


This is done according to the outlines of the

investments made can in turn be limited, which

Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards,

again has a positive impact.

based on the financial and non-financial Key

Performance Indicators (KPIs) selected by the

Consciously reinvesting economic added value

European Professional Real estate Association

in the sustainability of the project creates an in-


teraction between economy and ecology: with

each iteration, we continue to evolve towards

An example: designing a Blue Gate based on

an optimal level of performance for both.

outlines from the CRREM tool. It offers the possibility to weigh not only the current, but also the future carbon impact against the proposed decarbonisation pathway from the Paris Climate Agreement and the goals envisaged for 2050. Doing this avoids the so-called lock-in and thus brings the risk of negative financial effects of carbon tax under control. Thanks to the better operational results, the financing costs for the


Blue Gate facilitates technological added value

By combining their ambition with scale, a Blue Gate facilitates the product development of building materials and components. After all, in this way they offer the sales market

sales market in our pursuit of circular construc-

that is required for producers to launch new

tion, this creates the opportunity to exchange

products, optimise them and also exchange

these components between establishments.

them at a later stage. At a Blue Gate, we there-

The buildings are designed to grow, shrink and

fore reach out to material and building compo-

change with the users they house. Each itera-

nent producers who want to raise their level of

tion provides for more effective materials and

ambition with each iteration and who want to


remain involved for the long term based on the

circular idea.

Since supply and demand do not always run

synchronously, we provide a linear production

The scale of the site also plays an important

chain with the necessary space for temporary

role in the operational life phase of real estate.

storage in the form of a so-called ‘circular con-

It offers standardisation opportunities and

struction consolidation centre’ – analogous to

provides the synergy gains that allow the park

storage and distribution centres. In this way we

and building manager to focus on the commu-

are laying the seeds for the circular urban dis-

nity on and around Blue Gate. In this way, an

tribution of building materials and components

internal market is created: where today there

in which they are not lost but are (re)valued.

are frequent clashes with finding a supplier or


Blue Gate offers ecological added value

Once the site for a Blue Gate is detected, the identification of potential establishments is started.

Ecological added value at Blue Gate starts from the very beginning, with the selection of the site. By opting for the redevelopment of old, polluted sites, we avoid both the creation of waste land and the opening up of free space for economic development. The remediation that accompanies this redevelopment ensures a positive ecological impact that increases systematically throughout the further development and exploitation. After all, the choice for

Once identified, their sustainability ambitions

the redevelopment of sites located at a multi-

are mapped out and summarised in a develop-

modal mobility hub avoids having to transport

ment plan to which the business owner com-

heavy equipment by road during the construc-

mits: through the establishment conditions, he

tion phase, but also later as part of the opera-

is bound to design, build and operate his busi-

tional functioning of the companies located at a

ness infrastructure in a circular manner. He is

Blue Gate. By opting for sites in or in the imme-

assisted in this by the team behind Blue Gate.

diate vicinity of a city, we ensure that establish-

By combining the different perspectives on

ments can and will organise their last-mile han-

climate (e.g. energy use, water management,

dling and employee commuting movements in

etc.), environment (e.g. material use, material

a sustainable manner.

emissions, etc.) and people (e.g. daylight entry, thermal comfort, acoustics, etc.) in a decision matrix, we arrive at substantiated decisions on constructional aspects such as the required insulation quality, glazing percentages and positioning, materialisation of the supporting structure, whether or not the façade sections and


Blue Gate creates social added value inner walls are load-bearing, etc. The end result

In the previous section it became clear that

is a ‘circular programme of requirements’, which

a Blue Gate creates ecological added value,

in turn is used by Bopro as a guideline for the

both in terms of the design and construction

design and construction team. This approach

process, energy and materials and in terms

is also applied to the public domain, resulting

of transport and mobility. But it is precisely by

in an equally performing infrastructure. This is

embedding a Blue Gate concept in a metropol-

designed on the basis of the principles of cli-

itan periphery that such an area-oriented pro-

mate adaptation, adaptability, biodiversity and

ject can contribute to solving regional or local

minimal use of space. This translates, among

socio-economic issues and thus create social

other things, into blue-green corridors, parking

added value. The starting point in this respect

options for pooling, electric mobility, etc.

is to contribute to improving the quality of life,

housing and work of the people from these ur-

Ecological added value with a Blue Gate does

ban regions.

not end with delivery. Thanks to the establish-

ment of a non-profit association for park man-

The city and its surroundings are the ideal level

agement, the developer, public authorities, util-

of scale for achieving and scaling up the circular

ity companies and establishments are brought

transition. The synergy with the circular busi-

together in order to (continue to) realise the

ness park creates a new dynamic of chain and

ambitions in the long term.

life cycle thinking. A Blue Gate will become an attractive breeding ground for innovation and an ideal growth environment for spin-offs and start-ups.


A Blue Gate contributes fully to the circular transition of the local environment, not only through the exchange of knowledge between the various establishments, but also through a direct exchange with the local community.  26

It also immediately becomes clear how this Blue Gate concept offers opportunities for new employment: from creativity and innovative power in incubators, new jobs in spin-offs, start-ups and urban agriculture to vocational workplaces for people undergoing training in sustainable logistics centres or green maintenance. The approach offers opportunities to strengthen the social inclusion of one's own urban society. The importance of local job creation goes without saying.     People of all ages can gain skills and competences and collectively reflect on what is needed for a sustainable future. A project area such as Blue Gate therefore always functions as a facilitator of real vocational workplaces. Together with the regional labour market director, the construction sector can focus on specific vocational training for ‘green jobs’, or offer shop floors for on-the-job training. For example, one learns a trade by joining a company or enterprise and one masters the tricks of a trade by immediately diving into the profession. For youth and adult work in these metropolises, there is an opportunity here to strengthen the social position of vulnerable groups by entering into synergies with cooperating companies and schools from their competence centres for young people and adults.


A Blue Gate, Essential link for a circular city Cities as a raw materials bank Let us go a step further and look at the added

sition twenties’, but the 21st century will be the

value creation potential of a Blue Gate and how

century of the metropolis. Every day, the urban

this extends a little further. This potential is

population in the world increases by 200,000

presented by the conscious choice to position

people. Day in day out, and so it will remain in

and embed a Blue Gate on the outskirts of a

the future4. By 2050, two thirds of people will

metropolis. Precisely because cities are dense

live in cities. And it is precisely this concen-

living and working environments, places where

trated energy in cities that makes us all more

people shop, recreate and consume. They are

competitive and entrepreneurial, as research

laboratories for social and artistic dynamics, for

shows5. “After all, individuals are at their best

social and technological innovations. They have

when they can exchange knowledge, collabo-

a rich offer of academic and vocational training,

rate and compete with each other in an envi-

knowledge forums and incubation centres and

ronment that allows for personal contact”, says

are thus a reservoir for the labour market of

Ben Wilson in his book Metropolis.


This growth of cities ensures the permanent

Cities are also the growth points of the future.

construction and infrastructure development

We will enter the coming decade as the ‘tran-

of new homes and offices, of transfer stations


Sustainable neighbourhoods with circular buildings where it is healthy to live, work and spend time will be the guiding principle for the liveable city of tomorrow.

for multimodal transport and infrastructure for

is produced today last indefinitely in the future

smart cities, of new schools and future care

by taking back and fully recycling materials

campuses, or of warehouses for sustainable

at the end of the life cycle. But also through

urban distribution. At the same time, cities are

eco-design and standardisation.

confronted with a compelling and therefore ambitious sustainability agenda in terms of future-proofing the existing assets. In Europe, the Green Deal immediately brings that agenda into sharp focus. In thirty years' time, Europe must be climate neutral and it immediately becomes clear that we must go for an accelerated, circular transition.  In order to get that circular transition going, we need to start looking at a city as a materials bank and raw materials mine of the future. It ties in with the wider challenge of making what


A Blue Gate can respond to this by providing a specific zone for a ‘Circular Construction Consolidation Centre’ (C-CCC).

A circular construction consolidation centre can be regarded as a hub where various activities such as collection, reuse and reverse logistics of construction waste and materials take place.  Suppliers can deliver building materials, af-

ed renovation of outdated heritage becomes

ter which they are clustered per site in the

possible. Consider in this respect accelerated

C-CCC.  The multimodality referred to (wa-

retrofitting for social housing, community facil-

ter-bound, transhipment via rail) is an addition-

ities such as schools, crèches, neighbourhood

al asset in this regard. The last mile to the city is

libraries and meeting centres.

done by combined deliveries (bring full, take full) so that construction waste and reusable materials from the site are immediately transferred to the C-CCC. These combined transports result in fewer traffic jams, lower CO2 emissions and less nuisance in neighbourhoods during deliveries. In order to generate an impactful, circular dynamic, sufficient scale of the zone for C-CCCs is essential. By providing for scale, the redevelopment of parts of urban districts can be done here simultaneously or an accelerat-


Make space for a Blue Gate But that is not the whole story. A circular mind-

raw material, we consciously opt for the (re)

set for a city requires more than just the design

development of existing industrial estates, rail

of circular buildings and infrastructure. A city

yards or brownfield sites.

must also start functioning circularly in its local

industry and logistics chain, in its construction

The government plays a crucial role in this turn-

economy, in its mobility and energy policy, in its

around: with its knowledge of available brown-

food strategy and local social policy, and why

field sites and an effective incentive policy for

not in its tourist function as well.

redevelopment, it can and must help make

room for circular activity rather than a contin-

To achieve this, a metropolis needs specific

uation of linear expansion.

space for companies from which they can supply the city sustainably, create new green jobs

A Blue Gate functions as an ideal partner here,

or gradually transform into a new manufactur-

precisely because it has a guiding framework

ing industry. In addition to the raw materials

to support companies in this circular transition

centres (C-CCCs) where building materials are

as well as to create added value for the local

sorted, training centres, incubators and start-


ups can establish themselves as pioneers of the circular transition.   At the local and regional level, the designation of space and the urban space use of industrial estates is becoming a critical success factor in the realisation of a circular metropolitan region.  It requires the government to undertake strategic spatial and economic planning, rethinking the way in which industrial estates and brownfield sites in or near cities are redeveloped. Precisely because space functions as a (scarce)


A public-private assignment In other words, a Blue Gate can be understood as the flywheel that supports and drives an urban region to gradually initiate and accelerate that circular transformation. In the vision of a Blue Gate, space is the primary raw material for creating a circular area or region. A Blue Gate also becomes a stopping place for a first-mover advantage in the circular economy. It contributes to strengthening the competitiveness of our industry, among other things through the creation of new (green) jobs and sustainable economic activity.

The choice for brownfield sites – with a probable remediation obligation – on the one hand, the transformative area development of a Blue Gate on the other hand, steer towards a public-private partnership (PPP) for the development of an eco-effective business park.  32

The SDGs as a guiding framework In such a public-private partnership, each of

More and more you notice that companies are

the partners has its own role. It is clear that a

using the United Nations' Sustainable Develop-

role is reserved for the government as quality

ment Goals (SDGs) as a testing framework for

controller of the procedures, both with regard

the sustainability and future-proofing of their

to the contractual procedure and the permit

company or organisation. These SDGs there-

procedure. In this the government guarantees

fore form the global compass and international

equal treatment, non-discrimination, transpar-

framework for making a concrete start on the

ency and fair competition. At the same time, in

transition to a sustainable society. Because as

its various layers, this government has appro-

a society, we only take real sustainable steps

priate expertise, guarantee funds and business

forward if we increasingly succeed in linking

incentives that can be contributed where nec-

the sustainable development goals to the daily

essary and relevant.

practice of companies, organisations and policy


The complexity of a transformative and eco-effective area development encourages the at-

The SDG framework has 17 Sustainable Devel-

traction of one or more private partners with a

opment Goals, including 169 targets. The basic

strong sustainability profile and the necessary

idea behind the SDGs is ‘no one is left behind’

experience to make this transition a success.

and ‘everyone should be able to build a better

With their expertise, they are responsible for

future’. That is why they are grouped around

the development and management of the site

the five Ps of sustainable development: People,

and for building a community where establish-

Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnerships. In

ments share experience about their transitions.

other words, the objectives are formulated with regard to economic growth, climate change,

In chapter 2, in the ‘public-private partnership’

energy, health and well-being, gender equality,

section, you can read more about how a part-

education and other important social themes.

nership between private and public actors took shape in the development of the eco-effective Blue Gate Antwerp business park.


The SDGs are also holistic, precisely because

holders. By defining the focus areas, the sus-

they link environmental, social and economic

tainable ambition is highlighted, linked to the

challenges. Addressing environmental issues,

minimum standards to be achieved and elabo-

paying attention to social inequality and stim-

rated in measurable KPIs.

ulating technological innovations must be ex-

pressed simultaneously. In other words, added

Just as is expected of each of the establish-

value creation. In concrete terms: if an entre-

ments, a Blue Gate will also report on its sus-

preneur wants to integrate SDGs effectively

tainability performance through a CSR report.

into business operations, then a company and

It immediately illustrates the synergy between

organisation should align its overall strategy

the company-level CSR reporting of establish-

with all SDGs.

ments and its direct contribution to the aggre-

gated Blue Gate result. That is precisely why

It is therefore logical that these SDGs can be

companies can be supported and advised from

linked to sustainability and CSR reporting6. By

the community network in analysing their ex-

means of an SDG impact analysis of the organ-

isting and future activities in the field of sus-

isation, risks and possible points for improve-

tainability. By creating a facilitating framework,

ment are identified and an improvement plan

this approach strengthens the implementation

can then be drawn up to guide the organisation

of the SDGs in business strategies and day-to-

towards a circular economy. By increasing the

day operations and thus the future-proofing of

positive impact on the various social objectives,

these companies located at a Blue Gate.

the SDGs steer the sustainable transition.     Based on its purpose, a Blue Gate logically and consciously subscribes to these United Nations goals and aims to have a positive impact on each of the 17 SDGs. The translation to the specific field is done together with all stake-


Europe as a catalyst, Blue Gate as a facilitator This facilitating framework also offers the op-

In response to the pandemic crisis and in

portunity to keep business owners on their toes

view of the necessary economic and social re-

with regard to the knowledge and application of

covery, Europe has also developed an invest-

new and/or changing policy frameworks, regula-

ment programme of more than 1,000 billion

tions and (financial) incentive programmes. While

euros in public and private resources. Europe

the SDGs provide entrepreneurs with a guiding

consciously chose to align this recovery pro-

framework to make the sustainable transition

gramme with the ambitions of the Green Deal

and to assess the risks involved, political policy

and thus push the European economy into a

frameworks are also taking shape in the mean-

higher gear towards a green and circular econ-

time, which give direction and implementation to

omy. The Belgian recovery plan8 also endorses

a desirable, sustainable future.

this approach with several projects linked to

the circular economy.

With the roll-out of the European Green Deal, Europe is taking up this gauntlet. To this end, the Eu-

In the meantime, the first core actions have

ropean Commission and its Parliament are mobi-

been launched to involve sectors and compa-

lising the collective capacity of its Member States,

nies in this transformation. The new European

regions and cities to make Europe the world's

Circular Economy Action Plan (nCEAP) togeth-

first climate-neutral continent. With this ambition,

er with the Industrial Policy Strategy9 will make

all administrative levels have a role to play.

an important contribution to new green job

creation, new rights for the prosumer and the

As the European Commission itself puts it, this

stimulation of new developments for climate

Green Deal can be understood as a roadmap to

neutral and circular products.

make the European economy sustainable and to

The Just Transition Fund and the Sustainable

make this transition just and inclusive for every-

Europe Investment Plan provide resources for

one . The spectrum includes the development of

regions and sectors most affected by the tran-

a guiding political framework, the translation into

sition to a low-carbon economy.


integrated action plans and concrete policy initiatives down to the local level.


The EU's Territorial Agenda 2030 highlights the crucial role of good spatial development in achieving the sustainable and societal Goals (SDGs) for urban and rural areas as well as the existing space in between10.

The New Leipzig Charter The New Leipzig Charter, which calls on the Member States of the European Union to adopt sustainable urban policies, deserves special attention in this story. Referring to Sustainable Development Goal 11 (SDG 11), the Charter emphasises the crucial role cities have in realising the sustainability agenda. Attention should be paid, among other things, to the elimination

It once again touches upon the discussion of

of social disparities, a focus on a local, circular

how we will shape our space to make that cir-

economy, a climate-adaptive policy and strong

cular transition possible. As stated, a circular

spatial planning.

economy needs the space to offer the new manufacturing industry, companies with city support services, incubators and existing production companies the space to make the circular transition. It requires us to look differently at how we use space. The story of Blue Gate Antwerp shows that it can be done.



Blue Gate Antwerp, an inspiring practical example CHAPTER 2

Blue Gate Antwerp, Working together The start of a future-proof business park The site on which Blue Gate Antwerp was de-

tion on the banks of the Scheldt, this site was

veloped was known as ‘Petroleum Zuid’ and is

also involved in the Sigma Plan with plans for

situated within the city limits of the city of Ant-

stabilising the quay walls and raising the flood

werp. The name refers to the site's former use

defences to a safe Sigma height. At the same

as a petroleum harbour from the beginning of

time, this site faced a thorough remediation of

the 20 century. In the 1950s, the new petro-

the accumulated historical pollution.


leum cluster in the northern harbour was taken into use, after which the activities gradually

Due to the complexity and the need for an in-

declined in the second half of the 20th century.

tegrated approach, Blue Gate Antwerp Public

No petroleum activities have taken place on the

Holding (BGAPH) was set up on the public side,

site since 1986, and the area has become over-

in which the city of Antwerp with its real estate

grown with shrubs, crops and trees.

subsidiary AG Vespa, Participatie Maatschappij Vlaanderen (PMV) and the Vlaamse Waterweg

In the meantime, the city of Antwerp has been

are represented (see below). They have been

asked to clean up this brownfield site on the

working together on this project since 2006.

one hand, and to redevelop it into a sustainable business park on the other. Due to its loca-


A competitive dialogue, an approach that exists specifically for particularly complex assignments in which the government and the candidates first negotiate the content and details of the specifications. In 2012, the complex challenges of the rede-

In order to arrive at an integrated approach, an

velopment prompted public partner BGAPH to

integral development team was set up from the

launch an open call for tenders to which private

PPP procedure. DEC takes on the role as reme-

consortiums could subscribe. This contract was

diation, site elevation and infrastructure con-

put on the market through a Competitive Dia-

tractor. Bopro has been appointed as developer


and in that capacity, takes on the role of project manager, sustainability director, safety coordi-

Only after this phase do the remaining, inter-

nator and marketer. OMGEVING acts as engi-

ested candidates submit an offer. In contrast to

neering consultancy for the works. Quares has

the traditional award with rather strict selection

been following the project from the start in or-

criteria, this method offers scope for innova-

der to help set up the subsequent management

tion and an evolutionary view of development.

from its role as park manager. Van Moer and Montea have been engaged as logistics players

The project was awarded in March 2016 to the

to develop the water-bound and urban logistics

BlueO’pen consortium with DEME Environmen-

zone on the site to its full potential. UA and Vito

tal Contractors (DEC), Dredging International

strengthen the team as knowledge institutions

(DI) and Bopro Sustainable Investments.

to help facilitate sustainable innovation.


The total project area of Blue Gate Antwerp covers 63 hectares. Its development takes place in several phases.

Match between public and private The mission for Blue Gate Antwerp (BGA), as

The private and public partners shared

set out by the public initiators, is clear: to re-

the same vision: the ambition to transform

alise a sustainable, innovative, eco-effective

Blue Gate Antwerp into a pleasant place

and water-bound business park for the future

to work and stay. Bringing together knowl-

where companies innovate openly together

edge and expertise, political support, inno-

and where material flows and residual flows

vation and financial strength form the sol-

are shared in a circular manner.

id basis for achieving the joint objectives.

With this, Blue Gate Antwerp makes it imme-

With the establishment of Blue Gate Antwerp

diately clear that its ambition extends much

Development (BGAD), a special collaboration

further than just site development with circular

was started between private partners and


government in the form of a public-private partnership (PPP). The presence of public ac-

By attracting companies that undertake circular business or subscribe to a circular chain, this particular Blue Gate presents itself as a motor for the urban region.

tors provided increased legal certainty, risk management and financeability. In addition to the specific expertise regarding sustainable area development, the private actors also introduced the entrepreneurial temperament. As mentioned earlier, the city of Antwerp is represented by the Autonomous Municipal Company responsible for Real Estate and Urban Projects (AG Vespa). Through its real estate subsidiary, the local government contributes to the realisation of its ambitions with regard to the circular economy, sustainable innovation, entrepreneurship and qualitative job creation for both the higher and lower educated.


On the one hand, the Flemish government par-

cle, Bopro brings the necessary expertise to the

ticipates through the do and dare company

table regarding the sustainable and future-ori-

Particpatie Maatschappij Vlaanderen (PMV) in,

ented development of sites and buildings.

among other things, the remediation and redevelopment of brownfield sites. On the other

In addition to BGAD, which focuses on the de-

hand, it is involved via De Vlaamse Waterweg

velopment of the business park, Blue Gate Ant-

and thus stimulates the water-bound econo-

werp Building (BGAB) has been established. As

my by means of quays and logistics facilities.

the name suggests, BGAB is the developer of the buildings and ensures that BGAD's ambi-

On the private side, we therefore find DEME

tions are carried through to the building level.

Environmental Contractors (DEC) and Dredging

Entrusting the development of all the buildings

International (DI) as well as Bopro Sustainable

within the project area to a single party helps

Investments, via the Blue Open consortium.

guarantee continuity in quality and ambitions. The fact that this developer has knowledge of

DEME Environmental Contractors (DEC) and

the site's ambitions and conditions facilitates

Dredging International (DI) are both subsidi-

the establishments.

aries of DEME Group. DEME specialises in carrying out environmental projects at home and abroad, such as remediation, the purification of landfills and the redevelopment of brownfield sites into new land that is ready for construction. With this knowledge and expertise, DEME has been an excellent project partner from the start. Bopro Sustainable Investments (BSI) is an internationally oriented real estate developer and consultancy company with a focus on sustainability. Throughout the entire real estate life cy-


The role of the public partner Within this public-private partnership, each of the partners has a clear role to play.

The public side monitors the contractual agreements and the implementation of the stated ambitions for the development of the site and the urban environment. To make this progress measurable, output

eration of the wharf and the operation of the

specifications were defined and clustered to-

water-bound urban distribution. With regard to

gether with the private partner. The following

the ‘cooperation structure’, specifications were

examples make this a little clearer. In the sec-

also worked out with regard to the competence

tion ‘sustainability ambition’, output specifica-

and functioning of the land company, the pref-

tions were defined for the buildings (BREEAM

erential rights, guarantee clauses and so on.

excellent) and the site (BREEAM communities and a carbon neutral business park). Working with a management plan, the establishment of a park management structure and the realisation of collective parking infrastructure complete the interpretation of this section. In the ‘smart logistics and urban distribution zone’ cluster, the output was designed for the op-


The role of the government is not limited solely and exclusively to the contractual agreement. There is also an assignment in its role as a licensing authority. For example, an image quality plan was drawn up in coordination with the

The public partner also acts in its role as the licensing authority.

zoning plan for the Blue Gate Antwerp site. This plan is not a strict legal design, but an instrument to test the construction projects and the construction of the open and public spaces against quality criteria. This plan describes what the appearance of a building or its surroundings should look like. In this working method, the licensing authority monitors whether the environmental permits for the specific building projects on the site comply with the established image quality plan. Finally, the government's role as quality controller also relates to the qualitative interpretation of the spatial environment in terms of energy and mobility policy, among other things. By means of a permanent public-private relationship between the park management and the City of Antwerp, continuous quality control of the business park and its open space is aimed for.


The role of the private partner The private partners also have a clear role with-

Within BGAD, this means the concrete imple-

in this public-private partnership.

mentation of the phasing and output specifications drawn up for this purpose together with

The private partners bring their expertise on board to realise the development of an eco-effective business park in all its facets – from remediation to new establishment assistance.

the public partner. In the first place, private partners are responsible for setting up the ambitious sustainability framework within which the area development takes place. As already explained in detail in the previous chapters, the SDGs and the ambitions of the European Green Deal also form the guideline for this Blue Gate. Together with the stakeholders, the focus areas are determined on the basis of a materiality matrix and translated into measurable KPIs (see also the section ‘generating positive impact’). Together with the acquisition, ensuring profitability, financeability and a well-constructed phasing in the business plan are among the core tasks of the private partners. This means, among other things, managing subsidy files, involving investment capital and providing quarterly reporting.


Given the brownfield nature of this site, which

Selection criteria were established for attract-

was undergoing extensive remediation, expert

ing the intended establishments, which are

remediation and site preparation became a

checked with the specifically designed identifi-

crucial aspect of the development. DEME and

cation tool (see the section on targeted market-

its subsidiary DEC took on the remediation and

ing). In addition to its role as marketer, Bopro is

infrastructure works respectively.

also responsible for guiding and supporting the establishments in their sustainability ambitions

The private partner Bopro Sustainable Invest-

in the development of their circular company

ments takes on the role as marketer and de-

building and in the implementation of their de-

veloper. A clear positioning of the site is very

velopment plan.

important. The unique assets of the Blue Gate Antwerp site are put in the spotlight during the

In this role, the private partner is responsible

acquisition process. We are talking about the

for qualitative reporting by submitting a CSR

multimodal location next to the city centre, the

report, monitoring the sustainability ambitions

climate resilience, the water-bound character,

via the BREEAM tool and for the development

the integrated green lung, the cost-effective-

of a Blue Gate community in terms of knowl-

ness, the purchase of land and buildings in a

edge sharing (see chapter ‘transparent compa-

VAT unit, the circular and innovative commu-

ny policy’).

nity embedded in the Antwerp and Flemish entrepreneurial climate, the PPP structure as a facilitating role and the extensive park management that unburdens the buyer. BGAD opts for targeted and internationally oriented marketing.


Eco- effective companies Reference has been made to it regularly in this

economic growth. On a social level, a positive

book, but the choice to set up Blue Gate Ant-

impact is also generated by furnishing the

werp based on eco-effectiveness is crucial. To

business park as pleasantly as possible with

recap: Eco-efficiency is a linear economy con-

green and blue elements, rest areas and bicy-

cept that revolves around limiting and reducing

cle tracks in the public domain and by creating

the negative ecological impact but still implies

new workplaces.

that there is a negative impact. In addition to these obvious measures, over Eco-effectiveness goes further; the negative

which BGAD has full control as the developer,

ecological impact is minimised and at the same

BGAD wishes to go further. It wishes to find

time there is a maximum effort to create a pos-

that same eco-effective spirit in the compa-

itive impact. Thus, eco-effectiveness positively

nies that establish themselves on the site. The

defines environmental, social and economic

scarce eco-effective space must be used in an

properties of goods and services, eliminating

appropriately ambitious manner. By bringing

the fundamental problems that arise in eco-ef-


ficiency strategies.

companies with complementary visions, Blue Gate Antwerp is building a community

We would like to make that more concrete.

where eco-effectiveness is the norm and where

Blue Gate Antwerp is primarily eco-effective by

companies strengthen each other. For exam-

redeveloping a polluted industrial estate. On

ple, business owners are invited to open their

an ecological level, there is a positive impact

workplaces to apprenticeships and training

because no ‘greenfield sites’ are developed,

courses for low-skilled persons, thereby imme-

but the brownfield lands are remediated and

diately giving them a head start in responding

provided with a green corridor with wadis –

to the impending labour shortage.

storm buffers. On the economic level, space is being created for employment and sustainable


Eco-effectiveness is therefore above all an action: it is a process of continuous improvement and sustainability in which an answer is given to market disruptions in order to achieve a future-proof ecosystem.


Companies that are willing to subscribe to this

the needs of DHL Express. Plein Publiek wishes

continuous improvement process are comple-

to be a meeting place for circular companies

mentary to the site. It does not, therefore, only

and private individuals where people can work,

concern fully sustainable companies, insofar as

brainstorm and relax together. In addition, we

these already exist. However, they are compa-

find BlueAPP and BlueChem, both of which fo-

nies with a circular vision of the future that are

cus on innovation within sustainable chemistry.

willing to work together and innovate together.

The pre-incubator BlueAPP of the University of

A rather traditional company but with a vision

Antwerp focuses on research projects from the

for the future and with an essential service or

University and checks which projects are com-

product within the established circular chain

mercially viable. As an incubator, BlueChem

is just as valuable to Blue Gate Antwerp as a

offers space to start-ups within sustainable

highly sustainable, but independent company.

chemistry and in this way offers a good fol-

Establishments at Blue Gate Antwerp have cho-

low-up trajectory to possible students from

sen this site because they have a good guiding

BlueAPP. Within BlueChem, there are partners

framework (e.g. establishment conditions, de-

who advise young companies on financial, legal

velopment plan, CSR reporting) and a support-

and organisational matters. If a water company

ing context (community, sustainability advice)

soon establishes itself on the Blue Gate Ant-

to follow this process.

werp site, this will offer additional opportunities to use their expertise in sustainable water

In 2021, the Antwerp site already has several

management on the site.

establishments: DHL Express, Plein Publiek, BlueChem and BlueApp. Each of these entrepreneurs is working on their transition to eco-effectiveness in their own way. As a parcel deliverer, DHL Express is fully committed to the electrification of its fleet and the delivery of parcels in the Antwerp city centre by Cubicycle, an electric bicycle specifically designed for


Targeted marketing BGAD develops a sustainable, innovative, eco-effective and future-oriented business park with estimated employment for 2,000 to 3,000 employees.

There is no business park without companies, so Bopro is looking for companies that can identify with the sustainable philosophy of Blue Gate Antwerp. After all, the chance that companies will enter

Considering the location, the link with the city

into partnerships and synergies is greater if

can be strategically implemented. Within the

they support the same philosophy. Targeted

city, tougher business activity is often pushed

marketing is therefore an essential part of the

away by residential and office projects. Howev-

sustainable success of a Blue Gate. BGAD's

er, proximity to business activity is essential for

marketing focuses on innovative production,

jobs and for the sustainable delivery of essen-

research & development, preferably in sustain-

tial products and services. That is why, in the

able chemistry, clean-tech and smart logistics,

marketing, there is attention to the link that po-

but the business activities take precedence.

tential establishments have with the local urban

The broad network of the partnership is used

fabric. These so-called city support companies

to identify establishments where a partnership

are also welcome. They provide services and/or

is set up with public counters such as FIT and

produce products that are essential within the

B&I. Once identified, an open process is initiat-

urban fabric. An activity that would be less or

ed under the leadership of Bopro.

not eco-effective if it were located outside Blue Gate Antwerp, in other words outside the city.


The activities at Blue Gate Antwerp not only focus on new products and processes, but also on providing innovation for the existing industry.

The Antwerp context is used to attract sustainable innovative establishments. In order to set up the correct substantiated marketing strategy, an extensive market study is carried out, which results in a number of focus areas. Building on the core knowledge domains of the University of Antwerp, there is a strong focus on sustainable chemistry and the circular economy as a thematic focus for the site. The

In addition to the sectors, we identify the fol-

most relevant sectors are the circularity of wa-

lowing relevant business activities: industrial

ter, biological chemistry, sustainable chemicals

manufacturing, technology and tool develop-

and materials, and the Internet of Things (IoT)

ers, and services. This combination of sector

applied to chemicals.

and activity provides a matrix of company ar-

Antwerp and its port are characterised by the

chetypes on which marketing will focus.

presence of industry. On the other hand, in a circular economy, the open exchange between different sectors is important, whereby Blue Gate Antwerp is the suitable place to give innovative activities a sustainable place in the sense of both ecological and future-proof sustainability. The ecosystem is set up on the site and in relation to the environment. Within the circular economy, the


focus is on closing chains. Marketing should

This tool evaluates the sustainable added val-

therefore focus on supplementing the exist-

ue that can be created by establishing a certain

ing chains within the city, such as diamond,

company on BGA and examines the possibility

fashion, digitisation (smart city), intelligent port

of collaborations of that company with actors

logistics and food. These additional activities

on and around the site. In the identification

strengthen the city's sectoral ecosystem and

tool, this added value for BGA and for the com-

the innovation ecosystem of this Blue Gate.

pany is evaluated on the basis of a multi-criterion analysis around three topics: the business activity, the site and the building.

To simplify the ‘matchmaking process’, BGAD uses an identification tool developed by marketer Bopro.

Within the ‘Business activity’ section, the activities and ambitions of the company itself are tested for circularity in the short and long term and innovation and sustainability are examined. Transition thinking is important and that is why we not only identify circular companies, but also companies that have initiated the circular transition. In the ‘Site’ section, we identify the added value and the potential for synergies on the site and the surroundings of Blue Gate Antwerp. The last section, ‘Building’, questions the ambition level of the potential establishment for sustainability at the building level.


Eco-effectiveness is not an easy task and existing business processes cannot always be easily adapted. This transition takes time. Together with the

The envisaged transition will be a common ob-

business owners, BGAD looks at how they can

jective and condition, in which transparent re-

develop their activities to become eco-effective

porting will be an essential part.

within a certain period of time. The contract formation reflects this with a number of man-

To this end, the establishments annually pres-

datory establishment conditions. It chooses

ent the progress of the submitted develop-

not to impose an exhaustive list of hard re-

ment plan and a sustainability report contain-

quirements. Such an exhaustive list is quickly

ing qualitative and quantitative objectives. The

outdated due to the transition in the market.

monitoring allows for aggregated communica-

Moreover, the list is either too restrictive or in-

tion about progress at site level, to learn from

sufficiently ambitious. The establishment con-

each other and to identify possible new syner-

ditions are therefore also partly process-based,


in which a methodology for further sustainability is agreed together with regular reporting for follow-up. It is not about ticking off a checklist at the start, but about a trajectory for the coming years.


Transparent company policy The BGAD representatives are convinced that a transparent company policy encourages self-reflection and the close following of the objectives of the identified pathway. To set up an eco-system of circular companies, transparency is the starting point to create the necessary trust. BGAD plays an exemplary role in this by being the first partner involved to publish a CSR report.

By transparent company policy, we mean business integrity, management integrity and transparent communication around the entire cluster of companies. BGAD reports on its progress and intended positive impact through its CSR report. This is also imposed on the establishments via the establishment conditions.


Since BGAD requires its establishments to

identify and measure themselves against the

communicate transparently about their busi-

ambitions of the site and to discover where

ness activities and their positive impact, BGAD

there are synergies.

attaches great importance to its exemplary role. Where desirable, Bopro also offers the

By translating the global SDG goals into goals

necessary support in drawing up the develop-

at an organisational level, BGAD succeeds in

ment plan and CSR report.

making its contribution concrete and tangible within an internationally known and holistic

Once the establishments are operational at


cruising speed, the subsequent site-level CSR reports will show aggregated results. For this,

To this end, the 17 SDGs and the 169 targets

it is important to streamline sufficient KPIs with

were examined one by one. After all, BGAD

the establishments depending on the aggre-

does not want to have a negative impact on any

gated reporting. For example, DHL Express

target and wants to have a positive impact on

sets the same transparent objectives with a

at least one target per SDG. The management

zero emissions mission by 2050 for all its activ-

committee, supervised by sustainability direc-

ities, including its cargo flights. DHL consciously

tor Bopro, subsequently clustered the select-

chose a branch at Blue Gate Antwerp, precisely

ed targets into 12 topics around which BGAD

because of the existing framework that helps to

works. During the subsequent workshop,

achieve its business objectives.

BGAD's management committee and board of directors ranked these 12 topics according to the impact that BGAD estimates them to have

It reports progress on a regular basis in order

on economic, social and environmental levels,

to fulfil its commitments towards BGAD. The

ranging from ‘important’ to ‘very important’.

pursuit of unambiguous reporting also makes it possible to make timely adjustments at both

At the same time, the BGAD's stakeholders

site and company level. The SDG framework

were questioned about the same 12 topics in

functions as a guideline in this regard. This also

order to gauge the importance they attach to

makes it possible for other organisations to

them as well. The 12 ranked topics are reflect-


ed in the materiality matrix. This materiality matrix is a visual representation of the importance that both the management committee and the stakeholders of Blue Gate Antwerp give to the 12 topics. This creates the necessary prioritisation, since it is not possible to focus on all topics at the same time. The prioritisation can evolve over time, which necessitates regular questioning of both BGAD and its stakeholders. The Mitchell, Agle & Wood methodology was used to map out the stakeholders for BGAD. On the basis of this methodology, one examines the extent to which a stakeholder possesses one or more attributes: power, legitimacy and urgency. The more attributes a stakeholder has, the greater this stakeholder's influence on the organisation of BGAD11.


Sustainable innovation BGAD attaches great importance to sustainable innovation. BGAD is demonstrating its intention by being the first to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into the development and management of a business

By creating space for innovative activities, BGAD focuses on innovation, research and development.

park and by issuing a CSR report as a business park. But concepts such as circularity, SDGs and eco-effectiveness are still too much unknown territory for many. By regularly organising events at this Blue Gate where the vision and values are revealed, BGAD helps to spread these concepts and make them commonplace. The identification tool, as explained above, was also specifically developed by Bopro for the purpose of attracting establishments and to simplify the ‘match-making process’. With this innovative tool, BGAD is able, among other things, to detect possible synergies in companies that strengthen the further development of the site. For the remediation of the contaminated soils, private partner DEME developed a rapid test with which soils with concentrations below the remediation value could be tested for the behaviour of mineral oil in the soil in order to exclude the spread of contamination via floating layer formation.


Firstly, BGAD tries to attract knowledge compa-

tres and the five Flemish universities. Since its

nies that are strongly committed to sustainable

opening, BlueChem has been building an eco-

innovation. Secondly, we look for synergies be-

system that stimulates and encourages open

tween the various establishments in order to

innovation between large companies, SMEs,

stimulate knowledge exchange and innovation

growth companies and start-ups, between the

in the community. Thirdly, BGAD also wants to

private sector, government and academia, and

create a growth environment for spin-offs and

between all links in the value chain; from basic

start-ups, among others within the sustainable

chemistry to plastics, pharma and biotech.

chemical industry, where they can benefit from the presence of larger companies. To this end,

Finally, this Blue Gate also wishes to innovate

partnerships are entered into with local know-

where possible in the realised infrastructure

ledge institutions, universities, colleges and

and buildings. For example, BGAD realises a

innovation hubs. For example, the University

water buffer via the wadis – sized for a 100-year

of Antwerp was already a partner in the PPP's

storm – in which the large buffers are used to

competitive dialogue and will soon open the

irrigate the adjacent nature reserve when nec-

BlueAPP building on the site. BlueAPP will be

essary. For the development of the logistics

the pre-incubator of the University of Antwerp

buildings along the Scheldt, a circular façade is

where research is carried out in sustainable

used, that is screwed instead of glued. In this

chemistry and where it is investigated whether

way, the façade, which uses a very significant

this could lead to the establishment of a spin-

volume of the building materials used, is recy-


clable down to the material level.

BlueChem is the incubator for start-ups and growth companies in the chemical sector. As an incubator, BlueChem offers adapted infrastructure, tailor-made services with financial support and direct access to knowledge and expertise within an extensive network of international chemical companies, renowned research cen-


The 15 ha publicly accessible green corridor of Blue Gate Antwerp connects the city of Antwerp with the nearby Hobokense Polder nature reserve.

Blue Gate Antwerp, A sustainable site Bioremediation A thorough remediation was the first step in

soil. Based on concentrations and the type of

the redevelopment of the site, even before the

soil, physico-chemical and biological cleaning

elevation and infrastructure works started. Due

were used.

to the site's former use as a petroleum harbour in the 20th century, the soil contamination

In biological cleaning, the naturally present bacteria convert the contamination into non-harmful residues, thus achieving the predefined remediation values.

consisted mainly of minerals, benzene, PAHs and heavy metals. For this, the Flemish public service OVAM drew up and approved a soil remediation plan. DEME Environmental Contractors – specialised in carrying out environmental projects in the Netherlands and abroad and a partner on the private side of BGAD – took care of the remediation. The focus was on bioremediation, with an emphasis on the excavation and cleaning of the


In order to apply this technique successfully,

In the first phase of the remediation, the soils

DEME built a temporary soil cleaning hall on

were remediated in a soil remediation centre

the site.

21 km from the site. The remediation during the second and third phase takes place on the site

Within the guidelines of the soil remediation

itself, saving more than 5,000 lorry journeys,

project, ‘balanced cut and fill’12 will in principle

resulting in a saving of more than 200,000 tons

be applied as much as possible. The basic prin-

of CO2 emissions. In addition to remediation on

ciple is that the desired soil types to be supplied

site, a proportional contribution is also made to

are acquired as much as possible within the

the remediation of adjacent sites, such as the

project's working area. Applying this principle

Leigracht, which run along the site through the

limits the number of transport kilometres (in

Hobokense Polder nature reserve.

earthmoving) and the directly linked emissions. Of course, safety is always guaranteed and this is done in compatibility with the earthmoving works of future establishments.


Biodiversity on the radar During the preparations for the remediation

werp and Natuurpunt, after which a landscape

works, robins and kingfishers were observed

architect further implemented the green vision.

on the site. In accordance with the legislation,

This vision assumes a spontaneous vegetative

BGAD therefore carried out the necessary fell-

development with, among other things, native

ing of trees and wild shrubs outside the breed-

plant species and some slow-growing tree spe-

ing season. Felling was done in strips to disturb


the birds as little as possible. This is also an opportunity to pay some more After the remediation of the polluted soils,

attention to the construction of the green cor-

these soils were covered with a clean living

ridor on the site.

layer consisting of poor soil. The topography was tuned to the groundwater levels in order to create suitable initial situations for different landscape types: open water, swamp vegetation, grassland and thickets/woodland. BGAD was assisted in this by the University of Ant-

This green corridor of 15 ha forms an ecological connection between the Hobokense Polder nature reserve on the west side of the site with the future Ringpark Zuid.


Sustainable water use and management Conceptually, the principle of eco-effectiveness

With climate change, a regular supply of water

came to the fore well here. Individual green ar-

is becoming increasingly difficult; long droughts

eas as a green frame around individual compa-

and more extreme rainfall will alternate with

nies were abandoned. Instead of fragmented

ever-increasing frequency. Intelligent water

greenery, a large green area with real ecological

management is therefore a requirement in

value was chosen. The limited green space that

every planned area development. In the devel-

is better than paving (eco-efficient) was turned

opment of the Blue Gate business park, BGAD

into a valuable green area (eco-effective).

offers an answer to this by buffering and reusing water.

The corridor not only functions as a migration route for animals, but also has a water buffer-

Combating water scarcity means limiting the

ing function with its wadis. Natuurpunt will car-

use of water a priori. BGAD therefore provides a

ry out the green management and monitoring

landscape design with only native plant species

of the pioneer vegetation for the first years.

that do not require irrigation. Water is diverted

The collective management of the green are-

at site level to the wadis in the green corridor

as, both public and private, is done through the

and between the buildings, where it is buff-

park management. Through the park manage-

ered and then slowly drained to the Leigracht.

ment, the establishments contribute (financial-

In this way, water also becomes a contribut-

ly) to the maintenance of the site.

ing element to the ecology and the landscape qualities of the business park. Also at building level, BGAB promotes the reuse and buffering of rainwater by requiring the establishments to achieve a minimum score of Excellent for building certification according to BREEAM. During the development of the business park, collected water is purified to the maximum extent feasible and reused where possible; e.g. for the cleaning of equipment, limiting dust nuisance, etc.


By making intelligent multiple use of the available space, the focus is simultaneously on ecology, safety, water saving and flood protection. A win-win-win-win.

However, periods of drought are interspersed with more extreme rain showers. In Flanders, rainwater infrastructure is typically calculated for a storm occurring once every 20 years. As mentioned earlier, the system with buffers and delayed discharge at Blue Gate Antwerp is dimensioned for a storm occurring once every

At the building level, BGAD promotes the re-

100 years.

use and buffering of rainwater by requiring the establishments to achieve a minimum score of

After all, the buffers are interconnected gravi-

Excellent for building certification according to

tationally, thus eliminating the need for pumps


and ensuring the proper functioning of the system in the long term. The companies are reassured that their premises are in a climate-resilient location with significantly less risk of flooding. The water buffers also provide a strategic water reserve to irrigate the adjacent nature reserve ‘De Hobokense Polder’ during droughts or as additional safety measure for secondary firefighting water storage.


An attractive public domain BGAD consciously chose to design Blue Gate Antwerp as a publicly accessible business park

We have already referred to the new meeting

so that local residents and other non-residents

place of Plein Publiek on the site. The events

can also make use of the green space and the

on sustainability and the circular economy will

safe bicycle routes to and from the city. An im-

be open to both professionals and the general

age quality plan was drawn up for the entire

public so that this knowledge can be widely dis-

business park in which the total vision for the

seminated. The hospitality and sports sectors

site's architecture and landscape design was

ensure that the site is used not only during

put into writing. This plan is the guiding princi-

working hours, but also outside them.

ple throughout the entire development of the area and guarantees the accessibility and des-

The green corridor with its wadis provides a

tination value of the site for employees, visitors

resting point amidst the activities. Information

and local residents.

panels along the footpaths and bicycle tracks inform visitors about the history of the site and

The genius loci is preserved by restoring and

provide information about, among other things,

integrating the industrial heritage in the park.

the biodiversity on the site. Finally, BGAD is in-

The aboveground pipelines and the local reuse

vestigating other ways in which we can make

of cobblestones provide a visual reminder of

even more positive contributions to the com-

the past and give a sense of localisation with-

munity: e.g. incorporating art in the park, exhi-

in the site. The now protected APC warehouse

bitions, temporary filling of the APC warehouse

(Antwerp Petroleum Company) was used for

in anticipation of repurposing, and so on.

the storage of petroleum vessels. This warehouse dates from before the fire of 1904, making it one of the oldest buildings on the site. The warehouse will be restored and repurposed for a new future. These interventions thus become visual anchor points between the fossil past and the sustainable future of the site.


Infrastructure and sustainable mobility The development of Blue Gate Antwerp is not

We will discuss this in more detail in the ‘wa-

possible without the construction of infrastruc-

ter-bound transport’ section. In consultation

ture and the provision of mobility solutions. On

with the Flemish transport company De Lijn,

the one hand, this theme includes infrastruc-

bus stops will be provided at strategic loca-

ture works in which extra attention is paid to

tions with a timetable depending on the needs

road safety. For example, wide, separate cy-

throughout the development and use phases

cling and walking routes are provided and the

of the business park. Collective mobility hubs

number of intersections with motorised traffic

will be installed on the site where parking and

is limited. In the core of the business park, the

bicycle facilities are available in combination

delivery zones of the various companies are

with shared bicycle systems. Through these

clustered into a logistics courtyard so that the

infrastructure facilities, BGAD facilitates and

other building sides are always reserved for

stimulates the modal shift to sustainable mo-

pleasant green access for pedestrians and cy-

bility among the establishments and reduces

clists. A speed limit of 30 km/h ensures that rat-

the carbon impact.

run traffic is avoided and that only local traffic is present on the site.

Finally, BGAD participates as a stakeholder in the realisation of adjacent mobility infrastructure, such as the South junction of the Antwerp

The location of the site next to the Scheldt encourages water-bound transport.

ring road and the new Kruger Bridge for cyclists and pedestrians. The involvement of BGAD ensures that the future site is correctly included in the final design. This enables the introduction of specific needs and wishes of BGAD and its establishments.


Water-bound transport To optimally realise the circular vision of a Blue

water-bound transport. The infrastructure will

Gate, a multimodal approach to transport

also be opened up for building materials for

flows is an important starting point. As an old

construction and infrastructure works in the

petroleum harbour situated along the Scheldt

wider urban environment, such as the recon-

and close to the city of Antwerp, the Blue Gate

struction of the Scheldt quays.

Antwerp site offers an opportunity for business owners to have their transport run in a sustainable manner, via the water. In synergy with the implementation of the Sigma Plan, the public partner ‘De Vlaamse Waterweg’ constructed a flood-proof wharf at Sigma level, so that ships with a length of up to 200 metres can moor. Adjacent to this quay, BGAD has set up a logistics zone for transhipment activities in collaboration with its logistics partners. From there, the intelligent distribution of numerous goods is possible. Consider for example building materials for the buildings at Blue Gate Antwerp, or deliveries of raw materials and products for processing and distribution from the site. The distribution of fast-moving consumer goods by water is also being looked at in consultation with the logistics operators on the site, who bring their own lessons learned from internal studies from other sites for application on the site. In other words, open innovation also for


Given the unique location of the business park on the Scheldt and close to the centre of Antwerp, in discussions with potential establishments, BGAD is exploring the potential for deliveries by water, both during construction and during operation. 72

Via inland navigation or via the city distribution network, this site thus offers special advantages to establishments to organise their logistics intelligently. This is ideal for processing residual flows or for quickly distributing innovative products in a sustainable manner. For the construction of a distribution centre, for example, the contractor delivered 726 tons of a total of 1478 tons of structural elements by water. This differs from the typical just-in-time road delivery and requires the necessary evaluations within the wharf's supply chain. With its unique location on the water, this business park had an interesting asset from the start. But by no means all potential locations for a Blue Gate have the same starting point. Therefore, in addition to water accessibility, other sustainable modes of transport, such as the presence of rail, must also be taken into account. For a new establishment, the use of drones for the delivery of medicines is also being considered. Clearly, it is precisely these specific modes of transport that make an essential contribution to the proposed eco-effectiveness of a Blue Gate.


The infrastructure created meets the same level of ambition for eco-effectiveness. The infrastructure is designed to support establishments today and in the future.

Infrastructure for a future-proof site We showed that a Blue Gate such as this one in Antwerp goes considerably further in its area development than the mere real estate perspective. Eco-effectiveness requires long-term thinking in which BGAD safeguards and facilitates the ambitions throughout the entire life cycle of the site by participating actively. This can be done by setting an example, such as with sustainability reporting or by proactively

Transparency in business operations is also

interacting with the market to identify the right

extended to the infrastructure by having the

partners and have a good understanding of the

master plan and infrastructure certified at the

challenges of the future.

Excellent level according to the BREEAM Communities certificate. This certificate ensures

Nevertheless, this type of project creates new

that the proposed ambitions ultimately also

urban areas where a Blue Gate is initiator and

have to be checked and proven. The ambitions


are not without obligations. The certificate is broadly applicable, so that sustainability can be compared with other area developments.



Blue Gate Antwerp, Sustainable and healthy buildings An open building process In addition to eco-effective business activities

The set-up of this method allows for the cre-

and future-proof infrastructure, sustainable

ation of economies of scale in order to trans-

business premises are essential for the reali-

fer acquired knowledge to new projects and

sation of a Blue Gate. The development rights

to allow innovation within the construction in-

were therefore allocated to a single developer,

dustry. The same continuity is established by

in this case Blue Gate Antwerp Building (BGAB),

appointing a design pool of architects who will

in which Bopro participates on the private side

design the various buildings.

as a majority shareholder together with the public partner BGAPH.

Business owners focus on their business operations and most of them are not very ex-

Under the VAT unity with BGAD, the Blue Gate

perienced builders, but they nevertheless

Antwerp Building project company is responsi-

benefit greatly from an energy-efficient and

ble for realising the Business Units in consul-

future-proof building. Here, BGAB's role is to

tation with the acquirers. This construction will

involve the companies in a co-creative process

not only offer the possibility of recovering VAT

in order to offer the most suitable accommo-

for acquirers with activities subject to VAT, but

dation. That is why BGAB starts an establish-

also and especially relieve the latter during the

ment process shortly after the first contact with

development of their business premises.

a business owner and parallel to the contract


formation. The process starts with the drawing

the contract formation ensures that there is

up of a programme of requirements for both

sufficient time to design a suitable building.

the functional requirements and the sustainability goals. By bringing in Bopro's sustainabil-

Through ‘forward thinking’ instead of ‘backward

ity expertise at an early stage, we succeed in

thinking’, BGAB unburdens the business own-

guaranteeing the circular ambitions as much

er and the future-proofing of the buildings is

as possible in the programme of requirements.


The company also has a big say in the realisation of its building, with few barriers and without having to get unnecessarily engrossed in technical details. The elaboration of the proposed programme in a sketch design, preliminary design, permit and final building is discussed transparently with the end user. At predetermined key moments, it is possible to decide whether to continue or adjust the project. The parallel trajectory with



High image quality The development of a Blue Gate can be under-

SIPs. A SIP must offer legal certainty based on

stood as an urban area transformation. It takes

the principle of due care, but should therefore

place in a planning process of several years.

not regulate all elements of the area concerned

Years characterised by a succession of chang-

in a precise manner. This means that the li-

es, innovations and new insights. Such an area

censing authority can have broader discretion.

development therefore takes place in a trans-

If there is insufficient knowledge of the subject

formative context. It is precisely for this reason

matter that the SIP intends to regulate, for ex-

that it needs an assessment framework that of-

ample the evolution of the needs of a business

fers sufficient scope and flexibility to adapt the

park, it is advisable to be more flexible.14

plans to the wishes of end users, the support in the surrounding area and the unpredictabil-

It is precisely this working method that was

ity of ongoing transitions. Both the energy and

used in the development of Blue Gate Antwerp

mobility transitions are constantly evolving, but

in combination with the preparation of an im-

are still difficult to predict in their final form. At

age quality plan. In particular, it is this image

the same time, it is essential to provide legal

quality plan that translates the principles from

certainty and due diligence to establishments

the SIP into concrete directions for solutions

from the outset.

and which includes guidelines for guaranteeing image quality in the future.

This balancing act between flexibility and legal certainty is not new in spatial planning. This discussion is most apparent when drawing up the spatial implementation plan (SIP). It is important to note that nowhere does the Flemish Codex for Spatial Planning (VCRO) provide that urban planning regulations must be detailed in


This plan therefore describes in more detail what the surroundings and its buildings will look like.

The image quality plan is guiding for BGAB in this respect. The City and its quality panel are involved at an early stage in order to find an appropriate balance between image quality, business operations and safety. BGAB appointed a design pool of architects

environment within the building and on the

in consultation with the City Architect so that

grounds, provides an attractive working envi-

there is good diversity between the buildings,

ronment that can accelerate staff recruitment.

but at the same time knowledge is gained

The image quality guarantees that the build-

about what an urban business park should be

ings can stand the test of time, in the face of an

in terms of architecture.

evolving and expanding city.

High image quality helps to ensure that the business park functions in a future-proof manner within the urban fabric. For the companies, the image quality ensures a high-quality and recognisable building. The appearance of the building, together with the healthy working


Circular and climate-proof design Global warming poses various risks for build-

This all happens before a line has been put

ings. On the one hand, there are physical risks

on paper so that there is a good assessment

such as higher temperatures and extreme

framework for the further design and construc-

rainfall; on the other hand, there are transition

tion price.

risks such as higher energy prices, changing legislation such as the EU taxonomy, stricter

Through workshops, the circular design prin-

insulation standards and energy performance

ciples are challenged and aligned with the es-

requirements or changing market demands.

tablishment conditions already imposed. Their

Future-oriented development and construc-

synthesis forms the basis of the sustainability

tion therefore means taking into account all the

vision in which design principles are laid down.

preceding risks. At the building level, we advise

This is integrated into the programme of re-

the establishments on how best to tackle these

quirements and provides guidance for the de-


sign team. Throughout the further course of the project, we test the design and any design

We start from our holistic vision on circularity

changes continuously against this vision.

and sustainability. At BGAD's request, Bopro developed a methodology that is used at the start of the establishment process. By mapping out the entrepreneur's expectations regarding sustainability and circularity early in the process, we ensure an integrated design of the establishment to be built. This not only includes the spatial and technical aspects, but anchors the sustainability vision and circular ambition from the start. This sharpens the playing field and the rules of the game for the designers.


A healthy working environment – WELL / BREEAM In order to guarantee sustainable housing for

lines, the certificate also includes a check on

the establishments and to certify them objec-

delivery. This formal check ensures that the

tively, BGAD imposes a

ambitions must be followed up explicitly. After

BREEAM New Construction certification with

all, the certificate is not obtained without ade-

a minimum objective of ‘Excellent’ in the es-

quate follow-up.

tablishment conditions. BREEAM New Construction is a certification scheme for the sus-

Not only are healthy air, suitable light, good

tainability of buildings, covering ten domains:

acoustics or good thermal comfort important,

management, health and well-being, raw mate-

but the experience, the “feel good factor” and

rials and energy, transport, water, innovation,

the sense of community are also becoming

materials, waste, land use and ecology, and

increasingly important criteria for the users. A

finally pollution. By integrating these domains

sustainable, healthy building without healthy

from the start of the design process, we not

employees is therefore only half the battle.

only bring the minimum requirement of ‘Excel-

After all, research has shown that an optimal

lent’ within reach, but we further challenge the

working environment tailored to the needs of

level of ambition to an ‘Outstanding’ level. This

the employee makes for healthier, happier and

approach makes it possible to benchmark the

more productive employees with less absen-

building against an internationally used sus-

teeism, more continuity and improved produc-

tainability standard early in the process and to

tivity. For the realisation of a healthy working

optimise it where possible, without generating

environment, we rely on the WELL Building

unexpected costs. In addition to good guide-


The WELL Building standard investigates how the building design and the developer can promote the user's well-being. 82

The WELL standard offers a guideline with at-

Blue Gate offers a strategic advantage, where

tention to ten domains: air, water, nutrition,

it is possible to share infrastructure such as

light, movement, thermal comfort, sound, ma-

meeting rooms, co-working and dining facilities

terials, mind and community. Each of these do-

and to respond to temporary peaks in usage.

mains creates an opportunity to optimise the

The workshop for the programme of require-

building in terms of user experience. Although

ments consciously addresses these challenges

BGAD does not make the standard compulsory

in order to brainstorm with different disciplines

for the establishments, we do try to include the

about this and offer an appropriate solution.

principles as much as possible in every project. Whereas BREEAM rather focuses on sustaina-

At the request of BGAB, Bopro facilitates the

bility in terms of materials and consumption,

establishments at Blue Gate Antwerp as to how

the WELL Building standard therefore wants

these tools can be used as design parameters

to evaluate the building in terms of the user's

for the new infrastructure to be developed.

well-being. Dealing efficiently and appropriately with pandemics has become a new design issue to consider since the COVID outbreak. The workplace must be suitable for adaptation to new or temporary distancing rules. To avoid an excess of building space, the establishment within a


Decarbonisation as a function of limiting global warming The EU aims to become an economy with

energy demand and thereby limiting costs is a

net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

theme to which Blue Gate Antwerp is fully com-

This objective is at the heart of the Europe-


an Green Deal and is necessary to halt global warming. In the ‘European Climate Law’, the EU

BGAD encourages the use of green and re-

has set itself the intermediate target of reduc-

newable heat and energy. To this end, it is

ing net greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by

constructing a heat network on the site and in

2030, compared with 1990 levels. In June 2021,

the establishment conditions, it stipulates that

the European Commission drafted a legislative

establishments must use at least 40% of their

proposal for an emissions trading scheme for

roof area for solar panels, may only purchase

the construction and transport sectors, paral-

green electricity and must comply with the REG

lel to the already existing emissions trading for

quick scan (Rational Energy Use).

energy-intensive industry. This approach demonstrates that global warming does not merely entail physical risks such as higher temperatures and extreme rainfall events for buildings. Transition risks such as fluctuating energy prices, changing legislation such as stricter insulation and energy performance requirements or changing market demand will be equally decisive. Reducing the


Together with the establishment, BGAB is investigating from the start of the design process how further efforts can be made to limit the demand for energy. A decarbonisation roadmap will be drawn up

is screwed instead of a classic glued sand-

for this purpose. With a view to the future, sce-

wich panel. Rock wool is also used instead of

narios are envisaged to reduce the CO2 emis-

a chemical insulation material. This limits CO2

sions of the buildings even further.

during production and the materials are either

This means taking into account the lifespan of

reusable or otherwise recyclable.

the various building components and providing for easy maintenance, upgrade or replacement.

Finally, in collaboration with BGAB, BGAD is mapping out the existing infrastructure on the

The CO2 in the materials is minimised by per-

site and in the buildings in detail to facilitate en-

forming life cycle analyses (LCA) on the most

ergy sharing and coordination of consumption.

important building components and making adjustments if necessary. Within the development of the logistics zone, for example, an industrial façade construction is used that


real time visualisation of operational data



materials database

maintenance forecasting working together more efficiently






end of life cycle

Digitisation as a guarantee of ambition Many parties are involved from the design,

circular building also requires proper man-

through construction and operation, to the ul-

agement. In the classic construction process,

timate repurposing of a building, and there is a

an as-built file is delivered with a multitude of

repeated transfer of knowledge to new parties.

documents in which all information is available,

There is therefore a great risk of losing knowl-

but not structured. BGAB therefore works in-

edge. Between design and construction, there

tensively with BIM (Building Information Man-

is continuous monitoring of the sustainability

agement) to have a digital copy of the building

ambitions via the circular programme of re-

upon delivery to which it is possible to link the


available information regarding use and maintenance.

The completed building is a realisation of these ambitions. But to fully realise its potential, a

BIM makes the information more transparent for the building operator.


Blue Gate Antwerp in 2021.

Blue Gate concept: stronger together CHAPTER 3

Blue Gate Antwerp, Be good and dare

With this acronym, BGAD takes on its exem-

Be good and dare to match.

plary role as the first Blue Gate. Dare to look ahead, dare to create, dare to innovate. We

The match between the government and the pri-

commit ourselves with all parties within this

vate sector, which find each other within the same

PPP to make the extra efforts necessary to

sustainable and innovative vision, is necessary to

make this Blue Gate Antwerp site a unique

give to shape to this Blue Gate. Subsequently, the

place for entrepreneurs, for employees and for

community that is formed on and around BGAD

local residents.

is essential for the long-term success of the Blue Gate Antwerp site. That is why it is extremely im-

As a land developer, BGAD has opted for a

portant to identify and question the stakeholders.

development that may be a little slower, but

This is the only way to get a clear view of what is

in which the added value on an economic,

important to them, and a site can adapt to evolv-

ecological, social and technical level is beyond

ing needs in order to maintain its robustness.

dispute. Land is too scarce to be guided solely by financial returns. The initiators are highly

Be good and dare to build.

committed to this broad added value within an acceptable financial return.

The site underwent a radical transformation from a polluted petroleum harbour into an


innovative and circular business park. A con-

Be good and dare to make it CO2 neutral.

scious decision has been made not to develop greenfield sites, but to revalue and reuse an

Blue Gate Antwerp consciously chooses to ac-

existing brownfield site. Such an eco-effective

tively contribute to the ambition to become an

development starts with the on-site remedia-

economy in the EU that emits no greenhouse

tion of contaminated soil through to encour-

gases. It forms the core of the European Green

aging future employees to come to the site

Deal and therefore also a defining roadmap for

by bicycle or alternative modes of transport

the coming decades. By choosing to make Blue

by paying extra attention to traffic-safety in-

Gate Antwerp a carbon-neutral business park,

frastructure. Spatially, the idea is to think in

BGAD offers investors and establishments a

clusters, with a cluster of large-scale plots for

proactive approach with regard to a realistically

business activities and a cluster for large-scale

expected CO2tax on emissions from the energy

high-quality green areas instead of mixing

consumption of buildings. For this, we are ful-

them in a fragmented way. It means creating

ly committed to carbon-neutral electricity and

a future-proof business park in an innova-

carbon-neutral heat.

tive way by taking climate change and future needs into account.


Be good and dare to live together.

Be good and dare to make it last.

Work is a big part of our lives. Blue Gate Antwerp

Blue Gate Antwerp is more than just sharing

does everything it can to make the site and the

green space. Setting up an establishment on

buildings safe, pleasant and inspiring working

this Blue Gate means opting for a stimulating

and living environments. In this way, the indus-

environment where companies look for short-

trial heritage is integrated and concrete efforts

and long-term win-wins towards a ‘sustainable

are made to create lush biodiverse greenery in

world’. By embedding these developments in

the 15 ha green space, which runs through the

an economic circular eco-system, Blue Gate

site like a green corridor and also offers a green,

Antwerp is growing into a community of in-

slow passage for residents from the new resi-

novative companies and organisations in the

dential areas to the adjacent nature reserve. The

sharing of knowledge and the concrete appli-

COVID pandemic highlighted the importance of

cation of innovative, eco-effective and circular

open space in dense residential and commer-


cial areas. With this green corridor, BGAD is responding to growing attention for outdoor spaces in which to work, take a break and play sports or recreate before and after work.


Blue Gate community By now it should be clear that a Blue Gate is the

whether there are tasks in the business park

ideal breeding ground to help build – not just

for which cooperation can be established with

physically – the circular transition. From this

sheltered employment companies in the neigh-

setup, a Blue Gate cannot be an island.

bourhood, with training centres or with the detention centre that has yet to be built.

A Blue Gate therefore looks at its surroundings with an open mind and presents itself as

Recently, space was also offered on the Plein

a location for sustainable innovation where it

Publiek site, an innovative project that is brim-

is possible to apply new ideas. It must nestle

ming with circularity and young entrepreneurial

in its renewed urban environment by making

talent that is taking chances in the sustainable

the necessary links in terms of infrastructure

economy. Using stacked containers in an un-

such as public bicycle tracks and footpaths.

conventional manner, Plein Publiek offers work-

Or by building a relationship with local policies

places to inventive sustainably inspired creative

and initiatives. For example, Blue Gate Antwerp

people as well as an attractive hotspot for rec-

is gradually activating itself as a valuable part

reational local residents and city dwellers. And

of the urban circular chain. The link with the

soon also in a new synergy with the establish-

local community is increasingly taking shape.

ments at Blue Gate Antwerp. And to integrate

Think back to the establishment of BlueAPP,

circular thinking even better in their events,

the pre-incubator of the University of Antwerp,

decor and infrastructure, the organisation has

or BlueChem as an incubator for growth com-

hired a circular trend watcher.

panies in the chemical sector. As stated above, this innovative and sustainable business activity is a growth engine for green jobs, new local employment or opportunities for internships and interaction with education. But Blue Gate Antwerp is also looking for more direct synergies with companies and stakeholders from the surrounding area in the context of social employment. For example, BGAD is investigating


Creating synergies, in collaboration with public and private actors, between establishments as well as with the urban environment, is essential. To this end, BGAD is strongly committed to cre-

This requires setting up a circular eco-system

ating a community that agrees with the sustain-

for the establishments on the site. For exam-

ability ambitions. A community in which there

ple, by attracting a water company, the ambi-

is broad support for the ambitions, which are

tion and knowledge regarding circular water

shared in order to work eco-effectively with a

management can be further advanced for the

focus on circularity. A community where the

site. In order to actively stimulate the synergies

quality of the business park is guaranteed in

between establishments, BGAD is working on

the long term through open communication

its Blue Gate community. Every entrepreneur

and consultation between the establishments

who establishes himself at Blue Gate Antwerp

themselves and with the stakeholders. This is

therefore also becomes a member of the park

the only way we can scale up circular business.

management structure. The park management organises daily management such as maintenance, security, waste collection, group purchase of energy, etc., so that time and resources are freed up to invest in the improvement of its own business activities. For example, an agreement was reached with Natuurpunt to determine the maintenance of the green corridor in consultation so that the new green


BGAD works on a learning environment in which it is possible to follow up and refine the development plans and sustainability reports. structure can form an ecological continuation

In addition, the establishments are given space

of the Hobokense Polder nature reserve. The

to develop and learn. After all, the develop-

park management structure has the additional

ment plans and sustainability reports make it

advantage that all establishments are mem-

possible to monitor the objectives and needs

bers of a single organisation, which brings

of the individual companies and to share good

them into closer contact with each other.

practices through open communication. As the point of contact for all establishments, Bopro

During the marketing process, BGAD looks,

can use its overview to connect companies

among other things, at the residual flows of

with each other in order to set up a win-win

the individual companies. In consultation with

collaboration. In this way, this learning environ-

them, BGAD looks at how these can be reused

ment becomes a transition space where living

internally or which other companies might be

labs can thrive and good practices are shared.

able to use the residual flow as a raw material

The embedding with the city and the region as

in their business activities. These synergies are

a public-private partnership also ensures an

mapped out using Bopro's identification tool.

identification of collaboration opportunities outside the own site.


Houston, we have a solution With the story of Blue Gate, we want to be a

ing, the ability to deal with societal transitions

gateway for public and private actors who can

will be decisive in investing in and designing our

and want to contribute to the necessary sus-


tainable transition. We have opened that gateway with Blue Gate Antwerp (BGA).

At the beginning of the transition twenties it was time to write this story. Not just to tell it,

With our future generations in mind, we face

but to make it better. To inspire you, dear read-

the urgent and compelling task over the next

er, and to raise awareness about new opportu-

ten years to shape our economy and society

nities. To show how small building blocks can

in such a way that they function optimally for

turn a (local) world into a large circular move-

people and the planet. This calls for new ori-


entations, a new paradigm based on a holistic approach to people, economy, landscape and

‘Out of the one is two; out of the two is three,


out of the three is four, out of the four is then thousand things’ Chinese philosopher Lao Tse

For us, the theme of ‘space’ is the playing field

once said.

on which many transitions will take place in the coming years. Area and property development

It expresses our dream.

is not only about (energy) efficiency, but also about excellent design with attention to the environment, functionality, sustainability and beauty. Future generations deserve a sustainably built environment that reflects our cultural and social values; that supports the local economy; that is functional, sustainable and beautiful. We are convinced that, in addition to smart technology and circularity in thinking and act-


Welcome aboard the transition twenties. 99



IRP (2018): The weight of cities. Resource requirements of future


Di Maio, REM, Baldi and Polder, (2017) Measuring resource efficiency and


Kjaer, Pigosso, et al. (2019) Product/Service Systems for a Circular Economy.


Ben Wilson, 2020 Metropolis, Humankind's Greatest Invention.


Jason, Dey en Gabe, March 2010, Productivity and de density of human


CSR Report: An internal and external document used by companies to

urbanization. Swinning et al. Nairobi, Kenya.

circular economy: A market value approach.

capital, Federal Reserve Bank NY, Staff Reports.

communicate CSR efforts and their impact on the environment and the community.


Vleva (12/12/2019): Presentation of the European Green deal by the


Submitted to the EU in April 2021 as part of the Next Generation EU action

European Commission on 11 December 2019.




Decarbonising energy-intensive industries, such as the steel, chemicals and cement industries, is an essential factor in achieving the Green Deal objectives. The New Industrial Policy Strategy (10 March 2020) addresses this sustainable challenge together with the digital transformation.


See Ruimte (April/May/June 2021), journal of the Association of


See BGAD – CSR report 2020, Be Good and Dare, BGAD NV


The pursuit of balanced cut and fill is achieved by applying ‘local


Blue Gate Antwerp Public Holding.


Emma Vanderstraeten (2014-2015): thesis: Kan een flexibel RUP

Spatial Planners.


rechtszeker zijn [Can a flexible SIP have legal certainty], UGent.


No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or altered without prior written permission from Bopro NV.

Publisher: Bopro NV - Oude Houtlei 140 - 9000 Ghent

In collaboration with: In collaboration with Blue Gate Antwerp & Bopro