Stakeholder interview: Maxime Verhagen, Chairman of Bouwend Nederland

SH Maxime Verhagen

Maxime Verhagen, Chairman of Bouwend Nederland, the association of Dutch building and infrastructure companies, since 2013. Verhagen is a retired Dutch politician of the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA). 

’We have to stay ahead and be the catalyst’

What is the most important catalyst for further sustainable development in construction? 

‘The phase we’re entering now is ‘development by doing’. We must leave the drawing board behind, leave the endless discussions behind and get to work! Execution of those lofty sustainable goals, that’s what matters now. Translate them into projects proper, in close cooperation with your clients. Of course these need to be smart projects, in which multiple sustainable innovations are joined together. They will amplify and enhance each other. Out of this fusion I fully expect new concepts to emerge, which in turn should be scaled up swiftly. Let’s not waste time while building a significant future. And let’s not look outside, but inside as well, for catalysts. If sustainability is at your company’s core, you are well prepared to meet the challenge of new, sharp requests by your clients. Are you really passionate about distinguishing yourself in sustainable construction?’

How do we ensure sustainability will continue to be a theme – and what role does digitalisation and innovation play?

‘Sustainability is much more than just a theme. Over the last two years I witnessed inherent sustainability in each and every innovation, especially those developed by startups. Governments increasingly wake up to it and encourage their citizens. ‘Going green’ is rapidly becoming policy as usual. This has important repercussions. When buying a newly built house, people expect no less than an almost zero-energy home. In the near future, they also expect to charge their - soon affordable – electric car using the solar energy captured by their roof. Also, they won’t be exasperated if new buildings are wholly connected to very diverse systems. The Internet of Things is the next big thing and it has everything to do with sustainability. In short, we don’t have to cheer on sustainability. Instead, we have to stay ahead of the curve and be the catalyst.’