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Terminal News

The integral sustainability approach

The integral sustainability approach
Writing exclusively for Tank Storage Magazine, BRO and ENGIE explain how they developed an approach to achieve a wide range of significant sustainability gains for the tank terminal sector

What does sustainability mean? Are you looking at it from a traditional perspective? Will you work with alternative energy measures as part of the ongoing energy transition? Considering these questions is the first step to achieving sustainable operations.

However, many in the industry are looking beyond these to achieve a real sustainability impact on their operations. BRO and ENGIE have developed an approach to maximise sustainability gains in an easy way with its Integral Sustainability Approach.

Traditionally, the bulk liquid storage industry has focused on storing fossil fuels, gases and chemicals. However, a sustainability transition is underway in the industry. That means that the industry does not only have to think about storing alternative fuels, but also needs to look at improving the terminal and operations. So far, this sustainability transition is only visible to a limited extent. And it can be done differently.

Just like in most industries there is an urgency for the storage industry to take the next step in the field of sustainability. This urgency can come from companies own business insights and motivation, from the measures imposed by governments or through the requirements of their customers.

Currently, measures are implemented in energy sources to facilitate this process. Some good examples of these measures in the sector are the use of solar parks and wind turbines. However, if a company wants to make a real impact, it is important that in addition to alternative energy sources, attention is paid to the company's broader sustainability approach. But what else can be done? And what opportunities can that bring to an organisation? BRO and ENGIE's new Integral Sustainability Approach explores this further.

The goal of the initiative is to make a real impact within a company and highlight that sustainability can be fun and widely supported. One of the key success principles is to take the entire organisation along the journey, from management to operations. This approach not only results in a reduction of energy usage and cost, but also increases biodiversity, company reputation, employee health and satisfaction. It is often thought that certain measures cannot be taken due to strict compliancy rules within the sector, such as PGS29. Of course, these rules imply limitations, but at the same time we see that much more is possible than initially thought.

In the Integral Sustainability Approach, BRO and ENGIE look at a wide range of sustainability measures. They first focus on ways to reduce energy usage and then look at alternative energy sources using the 'Trias energetica' concept. Other measures also receive attention such as stimulating biodiversity on and around company premises and increasing employee health. This is done by jointly looking at:

1. Employees (health and satisfaction)

2. Company buildings and surroundings

3. Processes and mobility

4. Energy usage

To achieve this, BRO and ENGIE work step by step with the company. The approach used is based on 'the natural step approach' and can be divided into four steps:

1. Awareness & vision: in this step we try to answer a series of questions. Why is sustainability important? What impact can it have on the company? What is the sustainability ambition of the company? In other words, why does the company want to become more sustainable and how far does it want to go to achieve this?

2. Current situation: Research is conducted to determine the baseline of the company, which involves the following questions: What is the energy usage? Which energy sources are used and for which purposes? What is the situation regarding biodiversity? The answers to these questions, together with the ambition, is the starting point for further solutions and measures.

3. Bottlenecks, solutions and measures: The approach then brainstorms the most important possibilities, ideas and measures in order to achieve the stated ambition. This is done through an interactive work session involving all layers of the organisation, resulting in ideas that are innovative and perhaps somewhat unorthodox, but supported throughout the entire organisation. These ideas and measures are listed including their potential effect.

4. Define steps and actions: The measures to be taken are then incorporated into a roadmap with short- and long-term goals so the company can immediately get started with further research and realisation.

Rian Vermeulen, senior advisor at BRO, says: 'This approach has been received enthusiastically by our clients. Not only do we try to approach sustainability from a wider angle, we also want to make it fun by introducing new methods to take on this subject and involving all layers of the organisation.

As part of the process BRO and ENGIE organise a one- or two-day workshop, producing useful results while taking up as little time as possible. The outcome is sometimes surprising. By putting different disciplines and expert together they came up with the idea to reduce nitrogen by making a small adjustment to the jetty. This allows larger ships to come closer to the terminal, so they use less nitrogen to pig the pipes, which leads to a significant cost reduction. They also came up with the idea of storing rainwater to spray dikes and clean machines. This results in a saving in the use of drinking water and an ecological benefit based on limited costs.

These ideas are presented in a report which provides a general overview of the feasibility and payback time of the project. It is not an extensive technical report, but a report that is readable and understandable for everyone while being thorough and complete. This is complemented with maps to immediately show which measures can be taken at the terminal.

'By sharing these with your associates, sustainability really comes to life in an organisation,' Vermeulen adds.

It is important that sustainability is then integrated into the vision, strategy and policies of the company. The trick is to ensure that the subject remains fun and comes to life among the staff. Simple ideas such as using sustainability measures in a game of bingo, where employees can mark the sustainability gain achieved, can ensure that employees remain involved in a playful way.

Moreover, achieving (part of) the sustainability ambition can be rewarded, which positively influences the behaviour of employees. This is important to continuing to promote integral sustainability, not only in the near future but also in the long-term.

Rian Vermeulen and Renze van Och from BRO will be talking more about this unique approach to terminal sustainability in the afternoon of the first day of the StocExpo conference. For more information visit