Building bridges in a sustainable way… how does one proceed? By takingdoing a tour of the four ‘new’ buildings at Floriade Expo 2022, followed by a talk show with sturdy beams and creative connections, a future-proof foundation was laid on 9 May. This first event was the kick-off of the Bridge Campus programming ‘Building Bridges: a new way’, in a series of five meetings.

It is a matter of great urgency: with a replacement order for about 85,000 bridges and flyovers in the Netherlands, the infrastructure sector is facing a serious challenge. The construction of four bridges on Floriade’s site in Almere proves that a lot is possible when it comes to building bridges sustainably. The Smart Circular Bridge (sensoring of flax fiber and resin bio-composite), Second Life Bridge (recycled parts bridge A27), Bever Bridge (cementless concrete) and Rondje Weerwater Bridge (cementless concrete) illustrate that you can emit much less CO2, using much fewer new raw materials.

Talk show The Floriade BridgesLed by process innovator Lucas de Man  of talk show The Floriade Bridges, the panel members  Jan-Nico Appelman (deputy of the province of Flevoland), Jan Hoek (alderman of the municipality of Almere) and Erik van Doorn (manager of the construction company Dura Vermeer) teamed up in considering four pitches of sustainability experts in various policy areas. The people attending the talk show (60) were invited to join discussions. You can watch the talk show here: LINK.

Is the Netherlands circular world champion?During the first pitch, Jeroen Lubbers (Public Space Management, municipality of Utrecht) discussed the frontrunner role of the Netherlands as a bridge builder: how do we maintain that role in the circular transition? The talk show attendees agreed that this Bridge Campus is a wonderful stage  to show the world that the Netherlands is ‘world champion in public space management’. It helps Flevoland stand outas an international knowledge platform. The audience responded that it is essential to pay attention to complex regulations and the importance of sufficient technically trained personnel.

Innovation is a joint initiative, right?
The second pitch from Jaap de Koning (Witteveen+Bos)  stated that innovation is not only the market’s responsibility. That is not the case, either, the panel members said. It is in fact the way the government, the business and educational communities join hands in this ‘showcase’ that sets an example of how to continue to build and develop; sharing knowledges and ambitions together, and ensuring that platforms are created for circular raw materials. The government can remove barriers; it is precisely by looking more at the long term and by providing targeted financing that the market has more confidence in actually investing in innovations.

Circular, what does that mean?

With the third pitch, Rutger Büch (Cirkelstad) stated that a common language  is key for the desired acceleration to a circular construction sector. Indeed, one person’s question is not always what the other means, the panel said. Clearer frameworks and standards can change things for the better, but again practical examples, such as the Bridges Campus, provide lessons learned. However, old habits die hard; in the meantime, the curriculum of some of the vocational courses already includes circular construction. So that language will come at some point.

How do we keep the job market sustainable?

The last pitch of Mary Haselager (province of Flevoland) elaborated on this: how do you ensure that you job market is well equipped met knowledge and skills? Indeed, there is often still a mismatch between supply and demand in this area. While circular construction also works very differently (together) than the traditional way of development. An extra challenge, therefore, that can be partly solved by implementing the principle of lifelong development. More modular education is already being prepared to retrain people more rapidly. So that makes two sustainable transitions, of people and infrastructural works. For a better future.

Four more events to goIn the next four meetings, the Bridge Campus theme will take on a deeper meaning. In the meantime, various collaborating parties continue to work on the development of circular construction.
– May 30: smart , old and new materials,
– June 9: 5D Collaboration
– September 14: The climate friendly  business case
– October 4: Connecting circular infrastructure