17 - 18 september 2024 - Gare Maritime, Brussels

Blogpost Sunita Heers

There’s a lot coming our way and a lot of work to be done to achieve the 2050 climate goals

Not in the least short of ambition: As the youngest winner of the Circubuild award and founder of the company SuReal, Sunita Van Heers can hold her own in the ever-changing world of real estate. For instance, in one of her recent opinion pieces, she points out that demolishing buildings has an environmental impact that cannot be underestimated and that rebuilding them has the same impact as new construction. “Moreover, you don’t want to simply demolish buildings with a certain history either, but should look at how reconversion is possible,” Van Heers emphasises. In addition, she points out that the VAT system, registration duties and other financial matters related to real estate should be linked to a total environmental and biodiversity impact.

But what is SuReal doing today that will impact tomorrow’s real estate? After all, this is what we will mainly be talking about at this year’s Realty summit. “We are sustainability managers; we are involved from the beginning of a project to help set up the concept, until the end to make sure that all sustainability aspects are incorporated in the building/neighbourhood. We use science-based studies and approaches to investigate ambitious but realistic scenarios, to help obtain sustainability certificates, and to think about the use of (circular) materials, and so on,” the young entrepreneur says. They also set up – as they call it themselves – a kind of decision pyramid where they – together with the decision makers within the company – look at what can be retained and then how this can be done, by, for example, retaining the structure of the building but providing a top layer. And so on.

SuReal’s goal is to optimise overall sustainability aspects in every project and its surroundings, with realistic and pragmatic feasibility, and to be resilient towards the environment of the (near) future. All the while respecting ethics. This is why we work closely with the entire design team throughout the process. 

Besides assisting the companies throughout the development and construction process, we also help companies with their ESG strategy, for example by sitting around the table with the stakeholders to see what the company’s objectives and ambitions are, and to help applying the CSRD and other new legislation. “The whole purpose of our organisation is to help the real estate sector to be more sustainable because this sector is really facing a challenge. Not only in the development of real estate projects, but also in the day-to-day (sustainable) management of the organisation,” Van Heers comments.

Finally, she suggests that political strategy may look towards neighbouring countries such as France and the Netherlands, and a little further afield, Denmark. Because there are already laws in place there to work out the overall environmental impact of a real estate project. “The different regions in Belgium have taken steps to look at the overall embodied carbon of a project, but we still need to take the needed steps to make it into solid legislation or rewards systems” Van Heers concludes.

Share this article

Scroll to Top