An April 2023 cleanup marked the beginning of The Green Mile Hoofddorp. Employees of eight companies and councillor Marja Ruigrok (Haarlemmermeer municipality) went to the Taurusavenue in Hoofddorp to pick up litter. “Fortunately, it was already very clean there,” Ruigrok looks back, smiling. “So the day had mostly symbolic value: companies that are already focused on sustainability connected with each other there. As a municipality, we can only applaud that.”
Human- and animal-friendly street
The initiators behind The Green Mile Hoofddorp were inspired by Amsterdam’s The Green Mile Stadhouderskade foundation. Organisations with offices at the Stadhouderskade are working together to turn this road into Amsterdam’s greenest, most animal- and people-friendly street. Members of the foundation include Heineken, the Nederlandsche Bank, the Rijksmuseum and the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. Last year, Lidl also joined.
Machteld Kors, Director of Strategic Development at UNStudio, was one of the initiators in 2022. She did so with Ruth van Dijken of Blendingbricks, who is now director of The Green Mile Foundation. Kors emphasised at the time that The Green Mile is not a master plan for redevelopment of the area or some kind of action group, but a movement. “That still stands. Therefore, we are a foundation and not a business investment zone (biz) (Dutch). There is a mandatory nature to such a biz, which also focuses primarily on businesses. Instead, we want to work together with education and residents. And with the municipality. These are all equal stakeholders in the movement, each with their own role.”
The Green Mile Stadhouderskade seeks to enhance liveability in and around the street in a variety of ways. Similarly, in the summer of 2023, residents participated in a major cleanup effort in the area. In addition, The Green Mile is included as an innovation lab in several educational programmes at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. This means students can use the area for research on metropolitan challenges, for example, around supply, design and governance.
Learning from each other
The Green Mile Hoofddorp is not that far along for now, says Alexandre Golisano, Country President of Schneider Electric Netherlands. The company is one of the initiators in Hoofddorp. “We’ve had a few meetings now to get to know each other better. The next step is to learn from each other. What are different companies doing in terms of sustainability? And what could perhaps be done better? In addition, we want to invite employees to pitch initiatives, something that other organisations can also benefit from.”
Some eight companies have now joined the initiative, including Asics and L’Oréal. Golisano wants that number to grow and hopes area property owners will also join. “If we want to move towards zero emissions, we also need them. After all, buildings account for a large portion of emissions.”
Golisano could see The Green Mile eventually becoming a foundation, just like The Green Mile Stadhouderskade. “We can then formalise responsibility and ownership so that we can take bigger steps. That would match the responsibility we would like to take as companies. If you think sustainability is important, you also have to look at the immediate environment in which you operate.”
Marja Ruigrok, Machteld Kors and Alexandre Golisano are all members of our Network Council. Learn more about the benefits of membership. The article continues below.