VU Amsterdam, Vebego and RAI Amsterdam share their sustainability ambitions

This year, RAI Amsterdam, VU Amsterdam and Vebego are sponsoring the 2024 Zuidas Sustainability Award. The organisers (Hello Zuidas, Green Business Club Zuidas and Amsterdam Zuidas district office) couldn’t be more delighted! All three sponsors were Zuidas Sustainability Award winners last year, in the following categories: Society & Economy (Vebego), Mobility & Logistics (VU Amsterdam) and Public Choice (RAI Amsterdam). Here, we introduce you to these organisations and their sustainability projects. 

All three parties start off by talking about their winning Sustainability projects from last year:
Rientz Mulder (RAI Amsterdam): “We won the award for our local and plant-based event catering. This project, called ‘Heart-warming Amsterdam’ (Hartverwarmend Amsterdam), aims to reduce the carbon footprint of our events by offering more plant-based menu options. We work with local suppliers and source seasonal and organic ingredients from them to make flavourful and sustainable dishes. The project has successfully reduced CO2 emissions and food waste and also increased awareness and acceptance of plant-based food among our visitors.”
Roy Ploum (Vebego): “Zuidas still has a long way to go when it comes to inclusion, and we are applying our corporate philosophy to help change that. Vebego offers meaningful roles for everyone – for our ‘go-getters’, as we call them. We want to share our knowledge and experience with all of our of our companies in Zuidas and to offer our people a chance to find work in and beyond Zuidas, in cooperation with partners like the municipality of Amsterdam. What if we were to think in terms of job market prospects instead of limitations? To focus on what people can do instead of what they cannot?”
Rooske Gaal, Diederik Leusink and Insa Duvos (VU): “VU won with our ‘VU Green Travel Grant’ last year, which gives students an incentive to travel by train to their exchange destinations”, says Insa Duvos of the VU International Office. “Last year, students who travelled by train received up to 185 euros, depending partly on the destination. For the upcoming academic year, we have increased the amount to 212 euros. We hope this will help convince still more students to travel sustainably.” 

What does sustainability mean to your organisation?
Rientz Mulder: “Sustainability is an important core value within our organisation. We are striving to balance economic growth, environmental protection and social responsibility. This translates into practical measures such as minimising waste and using energy more efficiently. We are always looking for new ways to reduce our environmental impact and make a positive contribution to our community.” Roy Ploum: “From the very beginning, almost eighty years ago, our motto has been ‘Great Work’. Vebego offers work with meaning. We are proud to help our 40,000 people build independent, meaningful lives and make positive contributions to society. This applies especially to our more than 6,500 people who are disadvantaged in terms of background or employment. Sustainability is genuinely part of our company’s DNA.”
“Sustainability is one of our priorities”, says Rooske Gaal, head of Sustainability at VU. “Our research, education and operations are all working towards a fair and liveable world and sustainable solutions to the challenges of our time. Among our current objectives is to make the whole campus natural gas-free.” Diederik Leusink, director of Campus Development, explains: “We are investing in heat and cold storage to sustainably heat and cool buildings. Cold air is stored underground in winter to be used for cooling in summer, and the other way round for heating. In addition, we use 100% green electricity, have a ‘Zero Waste VU’ programme to eliminate waste, have green-blue roofs, worm and bee hotels and much more.” 

How do you see the Zuidas Sustainability Award?
Rientz Mulder: “The Zuidas Sustainability Award is important because it recognises organisations that are working towards a more sustainable future. It is a platform that showcases inspiring initiatives and motivates others to take similar steps. We see the award as a valuable incentive for companies to be creative and steadfast in their sustainability efforts.”
Roy Ploum: “On the one hand, the Sustainability Award is about recognising what companies are doing on the sustainability front. On the other, it’s raising awareness among all companies operating in Zuidas about how and in what ways people can contribute to a better and brighter world.”
“We applaud any effort to make Zuidas more sustainable”, says Diederik. Rooske adds: “Exchanging knowledge is vital to that and is also stimulated by this award.” 

RAI, Vebego and VU Amsterdam are sponsors of the Zuidas Sustainability Awards this year. Why is supporting this award important to you?
Rientz Mulder: “As a winner of the award, we feel a responsibility to continue promoting sustainability. By becoming a sponsor, we want to encourage other organisations to develop and implement their own sustainable initiatives.”
Roy Ploum: “We believe that this award has real impact. That’s why it’s important to keep organising this event and challenging even more companies to pursue sustainability in whatever way they can.”
Diederik Leusink: “For VU, it is one way to highlight sustainability and the great initiatives that are contributing to achieving goals both at VU and elsewhere.”