Sustainable Rotterdam

Sustainable Rotterdam

Small footprint, big impression

In BlueCity, more than 55 sustainable, circular entrepreneurs are active - photo Iris van den Broek

Sustainable Rotterdam

Residents and entrepreneurs in Rotterdam tackle challenges head-on. Challenges such as plastic soup and the climate crisis demand change worldwide. In recent years, an increasing number of Rotterdam entrepreneurs have committed themselves to developing sustainable alternatives. The innovative initiatives, services and businesses this led to took off. Whether it’s a hotel stay, dinner, walk or afternoon shopping: in Rotterdam, you’ll find plenty of innovative and friendly alternatives that make a big impression with their smaller footprint.

Sustainable attractions

The Euromast has been the go-to experience up high in Rotterdam since 1960. To stay that way, not only the phenomenal view of the city is important but also a sustainable view of the future. With a Golden Green Key Certificate, the Euromast offers the highest level of sustainability for day recreation. The special waste policy and using local products for cooking are some examples of green energy used. The same goes for Blijdorp Zoo, which has sustainably built animal enclosures and applies a sustainable approach to all materials and products. Did you know that it’s the many solar panels on the roof of the Oceanium that keep the penguins lovely and cold?

Another fantastic Rotterdam experience is a cruise on the Spido. This ship’s fuel consumption is 20 per cent lower than other ships of the same size, as are its CO2 emissions. Eco mode is the norm here: slower and more sustainable. This gives you more time to admire the city from the water. Many sustainable initiatives in Rotterdam are not only interesting but also spectacular to visit. This is also the city with farmland at altitude. The city where large industrial sheds are transformed into new breweries. The city with a floating farm… And have you ever seen a Sponge Garden? Here are some inspiring and sustainable experiences in Rotterdam

Sustainable accommodation

Many climate-adaptive measures such as green roofs and water plazas are visible in the city. The fact that Rotterdam also stimulates conscious, local and socially responsible entrepreneurship is not immediately apparent, but is equally important. Sixteen Rotterdam hotels have joined forces with the Green Leisure Group, BlueCity, Rotterdam Partners and the Municipality of Rotterdam on the Hotel Neutral Project. Together, these parties are taking steps towards a CO2-neutral and circular future for the Rotterdam hotel sector. This means not only saving costs, energy and water but also reducing rubbish and food waste. For conscious and sustainable travel, read our tips for a conscious and sustainable stay in Rotterdam

Sustainable dining & drinking

Rotterdam’s food culture perfectly reflects Rotterdam’s sustainability mission. There are many eco-friendly restaurants, started by passionate, ambitious entrepreneurs. Take Rotonde: this progressive (and award-winning) restaurant responds to various food issues – from provenance to dealing with waste – making it as circular as its name, meaning roundabout, suggests. Or restaurant Spirit in the Groene Passage, where you can eat or take away vegetarian and organic food. At The Harvest, you eat with the seasons, so there’s always something different on the menu. Read more about Rotterdam’s innovative and responsible food culture

A sustainable night out

All sectors in Rotterdam contribute to a greener future, including the city’s many festivals. These large events, in particular, inspire many people (4.7 million visitors a year!) to make sustainable choices thanks to their high visibility. Rotterdam Festivals is working hard to make festivals more sustainable together with organisers from both the sports and cultural sectors. A study on alternatives to disposable plastic is part of this. This makes dancing at North Sea Jazz, watching a film at IFFR or running in the NN Rotterdam Marathon even more enjoyable. Read more about (the future of) a sustainable night out (in Dutch)…

Sustainable port, nature & beach

Rotterdam might conjure up images of the port rather than nature and beaches, but they are closely connected. Here, too, sustainability is the order of the day, because being Europe’s largest port makes Rotterdam responsible. At FutureLand information centre on Maasvlakte 2, for example, you can discover the port of the future on a tour. For more fun on the water, try the Waterbus and Watertaxi. The Rotterdam water taxi is the ultimate Rotterdam means of transport, and now has a less polluting and quieter electric variant that can also carry more people on its trip along the Nieuwe Maas River.

Talking about the river: it acts as a connector and contributes to more biodiversity, with various tidal parks. Rotterdam is also going green at height. The Dakpark is Europe’s largest public rooftop park, the DakAkker is a rooftop farm on top of the Schieblock and the two-kilometre-long Hofbogenpark thrives on top of an old railway viaduct in Rotterdam Noord. Here, greening, sustainability and reuse of real estate go hand in hand! The same is happening at the Rotterdam beach in Hoek van Holland, where bunkers serve as hotel rooms and where the Maeslantkering – an engineering masterpiece – protects the area from the water. Read all about Rotterdam as a green and pioneering port city

Sustainable art & culture

With over 170 different cultures, diversity is a fact in Rotterdam. New people, diverse stories and innovative art: it is welcomed here with open arms. Like Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen, a reflective and public art depot with a green roof and sustainable energy system. And the Rotterdam Rooftop Days, a festival exclusively on the city’s rooftops, where the added value of sustainable roofs becomes clear. Roofs can prevent heat stress and increase biodiversity, making them ideally suited to meet climate targets. Yes, Rotterdam is a progressive and fertile ground for innovation, but let’s not forget its heritage! After all, those who pursue sustainability cherish what is already there. Read about the not-to-be-missed cultural hotspots and artistic events here

Sustainable architecture

The importance of sustainable architecture – from design and functionality to materials and execution – is particularly evident in a city bursting with activity and construction frenzy. The destruction of Rotterdam’s inner city in 1940 was a licence for innovation. The result is a patchwork of architectural styles, with icons of Nieuwe Bouwen (Sonneveld House, Van Nelle Factory) alongside reconstruction architecture (Het Industriegebouw, Rotterdamsche Bank) and ultramodern residential towers (De Rotterdam, Zalmhaven Tower).

But even before the bombing, Rotterdam was a progressive architectural city! In housing construction, for instance, sustainable ease of use soon became a staple. Van Tijen’s Bergpolderflat (the first Dutch gallery flat), Piet Blom’s Kubuswoningen and Michiel Brinkman’s Justus van Effenblok were particularly groundbreaking. That same drive for innovation, penchant for functionality and sustainability still dominates today. From the Nieuwe Bouwen and reconstruction to high-rise buildings, the city is now in the phase of innovative and climate-adaptive architecture. This is clearly visible in the Rijnhaven, the testing ground for floating construction. The spectacular Floating Office (by Powerhouse Company) is made entirely of wood and is self-sufficient, sustainable and floating! Floating homes (Havenlofts) and a floating farm (Floating Farm) have also already been realised. Water is not an obstacle in Rotterdam but simply a different kind of land for building. In the city’s outdoor areas, climate-adaptive measures are being implemented, for example, water squares, wadis, green roofs and less stone.

Although the sustainable objectives may seem at odds to build as many as 50,000 houses by 2040, Rotterdam architects like to make a virtue of necessity. Firms such as MVRDV, Powerhouse, Superuse Studios, LOLA Landscape and Mei architects and planners are ambitiously working on a healthy residential city. The goal is not ‘just’ sustainable but regenerative building: not just limiting the damage of construction, but adding value at all levels. The award-winning wooden residential tower SAWA is a fine example of this. Read more about Rotterdam as a sustainable architecture city

Sustainable shopping

More and more sustainable shops are opening their doors in Rotterdam. This isn’t only happening in the city centre but also in many of the neighbourhoods. Each area has a different character, matching the diversity of desires and people. Besides XXL stores and international brands, you can also find sustainable classics, vintage treasures, hyper-local, handmade and reused. Read about the best and most sustainable shops in Noord, Oost, Zuid, West and the centre…

The future of Rotterdam is sustainable!

Rotterdam is working and changing, also in the field of sustainability. It’s not just the municipality but also major players such as the transport company RET and the Port Authority that are working on this, because we can only achieve sustainable change together. Rotterdam’s city projects also demonstrate this focus: they offer residents and visitors space to meet in a healthy and green environment, while at the same time offering solutions for issues like reducing heat stress and collecting water. Read more about the impact of Rotterdam’s seven city projects here (in Dutch)…