Don’t connect gov’t buildings to natural gas network, MPs demand

binnenhof wiki
The Binnenhof in The Hague. ()

A majority in the Tweede Kamer wants the government to promise that the Binnenhof in The Hague will be gas-free after the large-scale renovations set to start in 2020. State Secretary Raymond Knops of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations will do his best, but won't make any promises, he said in a parliamentary debate about the Binnenhof renovations on Wednesday, NOS reports.

The Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament, called it inappropriate that the government wants Dutch households to stop using natural gas as much as possible, while the historic government buildings in The Hague do not become more sustainable. The Eerste Kamer, Tweede Kamer and Ministry of General Affairs are set to undergo major renovations starting in 2020. This would be the ideal time to also work on the sustainability of these buildings, the parliamentarians feel.

But State Secretary Knops did not want to make any promises about a gas-free Binnenhof, according to NOS. Sustainable building, like using solar panels and heat pumps, is very expensive and the Binnenhof renovation has to be "sober and sustainable", he said. It can't cost more than 500 million euros. "I am prepared to make an effort obligation", Knops said. "But it goes too far for me to say that the Binnenhof will be disconnected from the gas. That can't just happen."

Knops added that it is very complicated to only renovate the Binnenhof sustainably, because it involves historic buildings in a relatively small area. The government is considering solar panels and insulating glass, but that is not possible everywhere. He spoke about the caricature of the Binnenhof. "You can not simply install a heat pump under the Eerste Kamer. You have to spend every euro as effectively as possible."

The State Secretary will consult with the municipality of The Hague and other parties to make the government buildings in the city as sustainable as possible, he said. "I'm already working on it. You should not limit yourself to the Binnenhof, but look for it in an increase in scale."