This handbook is about social responsibility (SR) of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). What can you do as an entrepreneur to do business in a sustainable way? Is it feasible or only possible for large corporations?

Company type: Building contractor

Hardenberg, Netherlands

Short description of the company size and business

Dijkhuis is a contractor that initiates, realises and manages innovative and sustainable building projects. The work field includes the building of new apartments, utility build projects, home building in the free sector and water homes. In addition to contracting, Dijkhuis develops, manages and supplies heating and maintenance during the usage phase of the building. The amount of employees is around 25 and it’s located in Hardenberg.

Explanation by the CEO 'why social responsibility and the use of ISO 26000 is important

We look at the complete lifecycle of a home or building as much as possible. It is important to take into account the energy-, maintenance-, demolition and recycling costs from the start of the design process. This means sustainable profit for the user and manager, but also for us, our surroundings and the environment. With innovation comes creativity. Focus on the process management alone can be counterproductive. ISO 26000 focuses on all issues of social responsibility and leaves room for customisation. This makes it a great approach for businesses that seek to promote sustainable innovation in the building sector. We have ensured to scrap unnecessary procedures and ultimately, we’ve created a CSR & Quality Handbook that is the directive to our priorities for sustainability, ISO 9001 and VCA.

Benefits of operating social responsible

- Financial advantages and extra living comfort by taking heating and maintenance into consideration during the usage phase of the building. For example, tenants at the Anna Charlotte Hof apartment complex now pay EUR75 a month for heating and hot water, instead of EUR100 a month for gas. This amount was reduced by installing a heat pump and floor heating. In addition, the living comfort has greatly improved. A clear win-win situation.
- Substantially reducing garbage is possible with the Maskerade living concept, which involves industrial construction using wood skeletons. This construction process reduces garbage by 80% compared to traditional construction methods. The total lifecycle of the buildings is also longer because they can more easily adapt to new situations – they’re ‘lifecycle proof’. The energy and materials for demolition and building again are saved.
- Increased comfort of surroundings. Balconies are designed to ensure it’s possible to sit together. Privacy is increased by taking into account the view and peek-in angles. The quality of the surroundings are improved by choosing materials with natural self-cleansing properties. The living environment becomes more pleasant with a green roof terrace, the installation of an energy efficient groundwater heating system or solar energy powered gardens and entrances.
- A more efficient construction process is established through the cooperation with suppliers in the chain. Especially if this happens in combination with a construction information model (based on 3D drawings). Giving the users a say from the start contributes to a more efficient construction process.

Quote of CEO

‘Sustainability isn’t profit at the expense of others, but profit together’ – Eberhard Dijkhuis, Director

Quote of stakeholder


Tips in general

- The sense of purpose of your business is increased by picturing CSR-priorities. The step-by-step plan of this handbook goes further than the risk-focused approach always taken by Dijkhuis. You can use it to tune your management to your organisations’ vision.
- A review of your vision and strategy is worthwhile and is considered very positively.
- Cooperating with colleague-contractors by sharing knowledge helps both parties. In the Hibertad project, knowledge is shared, but it also leads to surprising new insights through cooperation.

Tips for branche / sector

- Standard trajectories are often too transfixed on certification (ISO 9001 and VCA) and don’t focus enough on the desired result. Focus on the procedures that make the difference and apply your SR priorities to them. This leads to more customised procedures that better match your direction and desired results.
- Every month, take photos of good and bad situations of yourself and colleagues on construction sites. Discuss them together. This is a stimulus for each other and encourages conversation. It leads to a huge amount of awareness.
- In addition to the construction cost, energy costs are an important part of the cost of living. By considering the energy, maintenance, demolition and recycling costs from the start of the design, the overall cost will be lower than when they’re only considered after the construction.
- Come have a look at the Hibertad Foundation in Hardenberg, where knowledge of sustainable materials is shared and solutions are offered for the entire building column, from the client to the supplier. That also (and mostly) counts for colleague contractor companies. This happens through a unique cooperation with government, social organisations, universities, schools and businesses. On 2000 sq. m, dozens of sustainable heating and electric systems are demonstrated and equipped with a joule meter to measure energy gains and usage.

« Back to all cases

With co-operation of