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SBE is the SDG Champion!

For the fifth year in a row, SBE has won the Voka Charter Sustainable Entrepreneurship (VCSE)! We are also having a double celebration because SBE has also passed the SDG Champions program of VOKA, CIFAL-Flanders and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and will soon be able to receive the internationally recognized UN sustainability certificate.

What is the Voka Charter Sustainable Entrepreneurship (VCSE)?

SBE has been participating in the VCSE since 2017. Through the VCSE, VOKA aims to encourage businesses to operate sustainably. Annual action plans are created in consultation with VOKA, whereby actions are linked to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the United Nations. About halfway through this annual process, there is an opportunity to discuss progress and any obstacles in your action plan with them at the interim evaluation moment.

At the final evaluation, the action plan and completed actions are presented to a final evaluation committee that will ultimately decide whether to grant you the certificate. At least 10 actions must have been completed to pass successfully.

Our 2021 action plan

Our 2021 action plan had no less than 16 actions, which had an impact on several SDGs.

Below are a few examples of actions we took in 2021:

  • Our fleet is responsible for 75% of our total direct CO2 emissions, so this year we took several measures to reduce the ecological impact of our fleet. First and foremost, the car policy was adjusted to gradually switch to an all-electric company fleet. To facilitate this transition, a charging infrastructure was installed that is also accessible to the public. At the same time, we organized an internal communication campaign on electric driving. Finally, we informed #teamsbe about all aspects related to electric driving through an EV Day. Everyone had the opportunity on this day to have a closer look at different models of electric cars.
  • We introduced a new language policy to ensure inclusion at all offices.
  • We organized the Charity Check month where every employee could do four hours of volunteer work for a good cause during working hours.
  • We organized an educational project in collaboration with the City of Sint-Niklaas around one of our projects, Vijfstraten Bicycle Bridge. Our aim is to encourage high school students to pursue technical and scientific studies in higher education.
  • SBE FIT organized the action “The Twelve” in which colleagues were challenged to complete a challenge related to healthy eating, participating in a sport and exercising or mental wellbeing every month.
  • We obtained the CO2 Performance Ladder certificate at level 3 in order to set up an efficient CO2 management system.
  • Various smaller actions related to sustainable consumption, mobility, healthy food and wellbeing at work such as the organization of a Car Free Day, switching to tap water, a survey on the psychosocial wellbeing of #teamsbe, etc.
SBE SDG champion VOKA

SDG Champion

In addition to the VCSE, VOKA, in collaboration with CIFAL-Flanders and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), also worked out an international SDG pathway for companies that seek to take sustainable entrepreneurship to the next level.

Since we achieved the VCSE laureate for the third time in a row in 2020 and completed action points in each of the 17 SDGs, SBE was crowned SDG Pioneer. This was the first step in the SDG journey. Just two years later, the icing on the cake followed in the form of the internationally recognized UNITAR Certificate of SDG Champion!

SPIRIT, the sustainability score for projects

The tool

This exceptional award is the culmination of a two-year process in which we further integrated sustainability into our core activities. As a multidisciplinary engineering firm, the design of engineering structures is one of our main activities. We are aware that these activities have a major impact. We therefore decided to develop our own sustainability score to assign to our projects.

An internal working group was formed for this purpose, consisting of engineers, BIM designers and landscape architects from different offices and with various areas of expertise (steel, concrete, geotechnics, etc.). Together, we drafted an internal calculation tool to calculate the sustainability score for about a dozen pilot projects.

The sustainability score was named SPIRIT (Sustainability Project Index Reken Tool (Calculation Tool)), in reference to the sustainability mindset that we want to impart on both our customers and clients and our own employees through this tool. In this way, we hope to get every party involved in the design process to consider the impact of the project on people, nature and the environment and to encourage them to think about more sustainable design solutions.

The SPIRIT score

The SPIRIT score of a project is calculated based on the answers given to questions classified by life cycle phase. The following relevant topics are addressed for each phase. In total there are 9 topics: social relevance, safety, energy, materials, ecosystems, spatial quality, water and soil, accessibility and project work. Each topic is also linked to the appropriate SDG. The score therefore addresses the three following sustainability dimensions: people, planet and profit.

After completing the questionnaire, a final score is assigned to the project and a recommendation is written by the working group in cooperation with the project manager of the relevant project. Finally, the completed questionnaire and final score are discussed with the client to indicate which sustainable opportunities are feasible for the project. The SPIRIT score therefore contributes to making sustainability a topic of discussion within our sector. A sector that still faces many sustainability challenges…

After receiving the praise from the evaluation committee, we decided to continue with SPIRIT and extend it to all our projects, thereby permanently embedding it in our business processes.

Our ambition now is to become an SDG Ambassador.

Are you interested in unleashing our SPIRIT tool on your project? Or would you like a more detailed explanation about our VCSE action plan?

Feel free to contact us!


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