Sustainable building meets sustainable brewing

Graduates of Zuyd's Built Environment bachelor programme visited the Alfa Beer Brewery in Schinnen today. Beer and building, do they have something in common? Yes, but not the association one might think of. The alumni visited the new building of Alfa Beer Brewery before they started drinking beer, and discovered that sustainability is not only the credo in the building world, but also in the brewing world ...

Belated party
Students who graduated from the bachelor programme Built Environment during the corona year were in for a treat. Due to the corona troubles, they missed out on a festive diploma ceremony.  This year, in the year Zuyd University celebrates its 20th anniversary, the Built Environment staff wanted to pay extra attention to this issue and organised an alumni get-together for more than 150 alumni at the Alfa Beer Brewery in Schinnen, with a playful twist: sustainable building meets sustainable brewing.

CO2 footprint
According to Joost Rijkers, lecturer and programme manager at Built Environment, the choice to go to the Alfa Brewery is multifaceted. For the graduates, the new building 'Bie de Bron' of the Alfa Bierbrouwerij is an interesting example of a construction project in which the CO2 footprint was kept as small as possible; in doing so, an (almost) completely self-sufficient building was realised.

Water from 6000 years ago
Another reason to visit Alfa is of a more philosophical nature. After all, Alfa Beer is brewed with spring water that fell into the Eiffel more than 6000 years ago and that has collected in the spring under the village of Thull over the centuries. This put the approach to the new building and the handling of nature and its sources in a different perspective. It is almost a kind of silent appeal to be careful of our natural resources and sources as well. "And then, of course, there is also a small nod to our betas to have a drink together at Alfa, where they can meet and network again," Joost says.

I don't think about it every day, but learning to learn is one of the most valuable contributions to a person's life. It is great that Zuyd has been doing this for 20 years. That is why we like to dwell on it during our alumni party. Congratulations to Zuyd!

Joost Rijkers
lecturer and programme manager

"I work as a programme manager and lecturer at the Built Environment programme. As a lecturer, I mainly supervise the minor in Sustainable Area Transformation in terms of content and process. Every year, I also supervise a number of students in their graduation research project. At the end of this year, I will have been working at Zuyd for 10 years. I studied at Zuyd 20 years ago; I followed the predecessor of the current Built Environment study programme. Back then, you started with a combined propaedeutic year of Construction and Civil Engineering. After that year, I chose and graduated in Civil Engineering. I chose this programme because I've been fascinated with building since I was young. Especially the big - mostly civil engineering - construction projects. 

As a student of the Built Environment programme, you have to be curious. Curious about the built environment and about the possibilities of contributing to a more beautiful, healthier and more sustainable living environment. If that is your basic attitude, you will automatically discover what talents you have and what professions and working environment are right for you. Actually, a lot has changed compared to 20 years ago. The most important change, in my view, is that technology is now much more at the service of social problems. This requires an investigative approach to the causes of problems and the subsequent provision of appropriate technical solutions. Sometimes the solutions are not so much in technology, but more in space for greenery, water, movement and encounters. The programme is very tangible. I always tell my students: everything you see outside is designed, realised and maintained by - mainly - professionals in the field of the built environment. 

In my opinion, the most important change over the past 20 years is that the construction world has become much more aware of the gigantic impact the sector has on the environment, in terms of emissions and the consumption of raw materials, for example. We are all too aware that we have to train our students to be engineers of the future. Engineers who are aware of the social context in which they contribute to a healthy living environment with technical solutions. I don't think about it every day, but learning to learn is one of the most valuable contributions to a person's life. It is great that Zuyd has been doing this for 20 years. That is why we like to dwell on it during our alumni party. Congratulations to Zuyd!