Leon (on the left) en Menno Ammerlaan

The name says it all: Ammerlaan The Green Innovator. Ten years ago, this six-hectare company, located in Pijnacker, was one of the first horticultural companies to install a geothermal well. The goal: to make their own pot plant company CO2 neutral and to supply heat to the environment. At the beginning of this year, the company received the EZK Energy Award for this.

Ammerlaan TGI is not only pioneering with geothermal energy. The company has also been a member of MPS since 1995. They have been recording their usage of crop protection agents, fertilisers, water and energy for MPS-ABC for over 25 years. The company achieves the maximum number of points on energy through geothermal energy and it therefore also has the highest score within MPS-ABC: MPS-A+. In 2018, the company also obtained the MPS-GAP and MPS-SQ certificate.

Public support
What makes the geothermal energy project unique is the underlying technology and the collaboration of Ammerlaan TGI with housing associations, municipalities and other organisations. The collaboration also gives the project, and the company, social support. There are 28 surrounding horticultural companies, a swimming pool, 543 homes, a secondary school, a garden center and a fitness center connected to the geothermal energy network of Ammerlaan TGI. “We are therefore known to the villagers”, says Menno Ammerlaan, who owns the company together with his brother Leon Ammerlaan. Floriculture companies are often known as large energy users. “Instead of emitting CO2, we return heat to the environment. In this way we help make the village more sustainable. This also improves the image of the entire floriculture sector.”

Pulling an allnighter
The construction of the geothermal well was not without a struggle. Because it was still a new technique, a number of things went wrong. But the brothers persisted. The municipality of Pijnacker-Nootdorp has always been helpful. Ammerlaan explains: “We have included the municipality in the project from day 1. They provided a lot of help. We finally got the financing through the municipality.”

De bij Ammerlaan TGI op het aardwarmtenet aangesloten bedrijven.

Ammerlaan TGI also installed the pipelines to the affiliated companies itself. “Often enough we have stayed overnight, because we had to solve ‘teething problems’. We have almost become a kind of energy company. A single horticultural company in the area was not immediately enthusiastic about geothermal energy, but has now joined us and is fully satisfied.”

Now the company is helping to reduce the usage of the member companies. Ammerlaan: “Companies can see how much they use. Sometimes they wonder why they have a peak. Then we check that. Ultimately, as a result, they purchase less and we earn less, but awareness about usage is important to us. In a cluster you need each other; that is what makes this project so strong.”

“When people ask me ‘what is sustainability?’ my answer is ‘awareness’”, says Ammerlaan. “Awareness about your environment and your usage. At home you also look at your usage and if you see that you are using a lot, you do your best to bring it down. Just like it is easy to separate your waste immediately. That is why I also think it is good to certify. This offers transparency and insight into the usage of resources. So it is about the information that makes you think and makes you aware. In fact, anyone can participate. Often it is not complicated.”