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'Most sustainable' industrial building in Belgium opens in Turnhout

18:00 21/01/2019

Discount supermarket chain Aldi has opened the “most sustainable industrial building in Belgium” in Turnhout. The building in question is a distribution centre, where products are stored before being sent out via lorry to supermarkets.

The distribution centre is the result of a €50 million investment. It’s an investment, says Aldi Turnhout managing director Frank Vissers “that offers a healthy, safe and forward-thinking work environment to our staff”.

The new building has 4,000 solar panels on the roof, uses a natural cooling system, is equipped with non-allergenic furnishings, is as energy-efficient as possible and is landscaped with locally sourced foliage. The efforts were enough to earn a Breeam Outstanding certificate, the highest level that can be achieved under the international system that measures the ecological responsibility of buildings. No other industrial building in Belgium has received the Breeam Outstanding.

“Energy-efficient renovations and sustainable new building projects are crucial to achieve our energy goals,” says Flemish energy minister Lydia Peeters. “Aldi has now set the bar incredibly high. The big investments made today will pay for themselves in the future: a lower energy bill, a nicer work environment and a lighter environmental impact.”

The German-owned chain counts seven distribution centres in Belgium, as its market share continues to grow. The company attributes this to a larger assortment of products and renovation projects. Its distribution centre in nearby Rijkevorsel was “bursting at the seams”, no longer large enough to handle the whole of Antwerp province.

So the chain turned to the Turnhout area to build a larger centre. “That was the socially responsible thing to do,” says Vissers. “Aldi remains in the region, and no one loses their job. Every worker is moving with us, which we find of utmost importance.”

Photo: Bert De Deken

Written by Flanders Today