Updated on January 12, 2023

Different but ready to face the future... of tomorrow!

By Shana Devleschoudere
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This week, we continue our series on the future of tomorrow and on the presentation of the Next2Be collection which is the main subject. This time, we present two very different companies which have in common that they have understood that the future... is today!
The first of these two companies, no need to introduce it to you, is ING. The Dutch bank, while not seeing life in pink, sees the future in green. Its ecological ambitions are visible in all areas: financial investments, energy performance of its real estate and digitalization of its services. It's an interesting transformation, since banks don't really have the reputation of being attentive to our planet. But at ING, we have obviously integrated the evolution of mentalities. Thierry Masset, Chief Investment Officer explains the strategy: "Nowadays, investors are no longer limited to purely financial considerations. At ING, we are convinced that sustainability must be integrated into the entire investment process, from the investment strategy to the selection of financial products and the advice we give to our clients. Europe has recently defined a new legal framework from which we offer a range of solutions to meet our clients' varying degrees of sustainability preferences. This new dimension of investing allows us to have conversations with our clients, no longer just about performance or risk, but also about environmental and social impact, and to help them make informed choices.
But the bank with the lion goes further. Internally too, it has decided to make an effort. More than ever, ecology must rhyme with economy. "The impact of digital technology on the environment is often underestimated: the growth of datacenters, networks, streaming, but also the (rather short) lifespan and difficult recycling of IT devices, already today have an environmental impact that exceeds that of air transport. Therefore, ING Belgium's Tech department has launched the "Green IT" program, in close collaboration with the non-profit organization ISIT (Institute for Sustainable IT), on three axes: raising awareness among our employees about the impact of their digital consumption, better managing the life cycle of our IT equipment, and training our IT staff to develop less energy-consuming applications and databases in the future.
Another company, another sector, another vision... but the same environmental concerns. This is how one could summarize the approach of the architectural firm Jaspers&Eyers. One of its pillars, Jean-Michel Jaspers, says no differently: "Architecture must provide an answer to a social problem. It cannot act out of egocentricity and start from itself or its own purpose. Architecture is not a given to which man or society must adapt. It is exactly the opposite: it adapts to the changes and needs of society. It reflects and thinks with society about new ways of living together. And it is at the same time a mirror of political ambitions. Politics does not always have the courage to do what is necessary. Often, for practical reasons or because they are not authorized, certain original and atypical proposals cannot be implemented. The architectural landscape is not lacking in ambitions and ideas, but in practice these too often remain stuck at the stage of the intermediate solution or, conversely, are not sufficiently thought through to be implemented. The danger then is that the whole idea falls through. Mature firms like ours can play a role in this. We can help ensure that these ambitious solutions are deployed on a large scale."
And our interlocutor gives examples: "A few years ago, we installed 75,000 m³ of geothermal energy under the Engie building. It was not a matter of course at the time, but this technique is now fully implemented. We have covered entire facades with vertical solar panels. And with the Nike European Logistics Center, we have demonstrated that advanced ecology is also possible in the industrial sector. I think that Jaspers&Eyers is an active forerunner in the application of large-scale technology, and we intend to remain so in the future.
Undoubtedly, the future of tomorrow will be ecological... or not! And if you want to be convinced, buy the Next2B collection of interviews with wise leaders which is on sale in bookstores.
In the meantime, this weekend, if you have some time, watch the video of the Next2Be project presentation gala. Here, everything is explained!