H.Essers moves into sustainable, future-proof new headquarters
H.Essers continues to grow. Therefore, the infrastructure of this logistics service provider is too. Which is why on July 19th, the company inaugurated its new headquarters, which will accommodate 185 staff. As the largest employer in the Belgian province of Limburg, H.Essers remains true to its local roots: the new HQ is located on familiar ground, on its existing site at Genk Noord. The building itself, a beautiful new landmark on the Limburg skyline, was designed as an exemplar of sustainability. It features green roofs, passive cooling and renewable energy, and it is completely future proof. An equally important consideration is employee comfort and well-being, thanks to a health-conscious ventilation system and a modern office layout. In this way, the new building fits in seamlessly with the H.Essers sustainability strategy. And it reinforces Limburg’s key position as a logistics gateway to the rest of Europe.
Work on the new headquarters for H.Essers started back in 2019. Despite a delay in construction due to the pandemic, the building has now been completed and is already in use. “Our goal was to optimise the available space,” says Salvatore Napolitano, Chief Procurement Officer. “We demolished the old car park, replacing it with a parking tower with an exterior green wall: a solution that is both sustainable and vertical, thus taking up less space.” The main office building offers 4,200 m2 of space over six floors, which add up to a total height of 30 meters. It was designed by architects Iglesias Leenders Bylois.
“Each choice made during the realisation of this beautiful project reflects the traits that typify H.Essers: dynamism, ambition, and the ceaseless pursuit of efficiency, sustainability and quality,” says Elizabet Iglesias, Architect ILB. “Their wish was a unique building, one that reflected the company’s identity and history, and entertained a close dialogue with its environment. We translated that wish into black façades and high windows – references to the area’s coal mining past. In addition, we aimed to incorporate the robustness and strength of the logistics industry into the design by including concrete ribs and a polished concrete floor.” In the next phase, contractors STRABAG meticulously executed the plans. “With its highly creative design and equally demanding architectural specifications, this project motivated us to go all out,” says Kris Delbaere, project manager at STRABAG. “The architectural specs for the exposed concrete and the tall spaces on the ground and top floors were some of the more interesting challenges. Thanks to the positive cooperation between all parties involved, it has turned out to be a brilliant and exemplary project.”
Room to grow
The new HQ was designed with future growth in mind. “Currently, we have room for 135 employees. However, we can easily expand that to 185, without the need for further construction,” says Salvatore Napolitano, explaining the layout. “On the ground floor, we have an auditorium that seats 75. We can use it to accommodate groups of visitors or to organise conferences. From the first to the fifth floor, we have supporting departments such as Legal, Insurance, Finance, HR, Purchasing, Engineering and Safety, Sales & Marketing, as well as Management. And on the sixth floor, we created a multifunctional room where we can receive visitors, for example. That space offers beautiful panoramas of the area, including a view of the various historic slag heaps.”
H.Essers is now housed in a future-proof building which benefits both its users and the environment. Salvatore: “We took care to create a stimulating work environment, one that is adapted to new ways of working. For example, we have plenty of meeting rooms and smaller enclosed spaces where our employees can work or make calls in seclusion. The parking tower has a spacious bicycle shed, as more and more of our staff like to cycle to work – a trend we’re only too happy to support.”
“In addition, we focused on sustainability. We use locally sourced electricity from our own windmills and solar panels. And we use heat pumps to optimally distribute that energy throughout the building. We recover rainwater and have planted a lot of vegetation on our green roofs – where we even have beehives. And the cooling system is passive – by using solar shading and solar control glass, we are limiting the cooling demand of the building.”
Maximum indoor comfort, minimal energy cost
And by that, Salvatore touches upon a key topic in contemporary office management. Creating an in-door climate that is both pleasant and healthy is essential for employee comfort and well-being – especially in times like these. “Hence our focus on a robust ventilation system. The standard ventilation rate is 22, meaning as many complete air changes per room per hour. We’re at 60. And thanks to our climate ceilings, we provide both cooling and heating in an energy-efficient way. In combination with passive cooling via our solar shades, we’ve limited the need for air conditioning, which can be too cold for some and consumes a lot of energy anyway.”
“With this new building, we are pointing the way towards a more sustainable logistics industry. We’ve created a pleasing, stimulating work environment, where our staff will help H.Essers to grow, but where they’ll also find room to develop as individuals.”
A delightful collaboration – with a view
How about experiencing the new headquarters yourself, and in a unique way? You don’t have to be an employee or a customer: if you’re a culinary enthusiast, you can come and enjoy our special partnership with restaurant De Slagmolen. That is to say, the renowned, Michelin-starred restaurant will take up temporary residence in our headquarters. “De Slagmolen is taking over the top floor. That’s a win-win: both for restaurateurs Bert and Giel Meewis, who are currently renovating their home restaurant, and for us,” says Salvatore. “While Bert and Giel can welcome their guests at a unique location, their presence here adds a festive touch to the inauguration of our new office building. De Slagmolen was already famous for its high-level cuisine. They will now also literally cook at a high level.” The restaurant will premiere on September 2nd, and will accommodate up to 40 guests for lunch on weekdays. “It will be a delightful – and delicious – collaboration, with a beautiful view. That much is certain,” Salvatore laughs.
Discover our HQ here: