Having part of our activities in Germany in the Green Building field, my manager and I naturally decided to send me to Belgium. Being a native French speaker, I could moreover easily communicate with the colleagues working in Wallonia, the French speaking part of Belgium.
The goals of my Quest were to share and obtain knowledge in the Green Building field, especially in the certifications (LEED, BREEAM etc.) and the building thermal and daylighting simulations. Another goal was also to see how they work, which projects they work on and of course to expand my professional network.
During my Quest, I have been to the different offices in Belgium: Ghent, Antwerp (HQ), Brussels and Liège, which permitted me to meet many people and see how they work. I also visited a construction site or a building where ARCADIS Belgium is involved in almost every day . The most impressive construction site was the new distribution center of Nike, which is going to be the biggest of Europe. They are installing many green technologies (photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, geothermal heat pumps, green roofs etc.) and are targeting the LEED Gold certification. We visited the site regarding these matters but ARCADIS is also involved in many other parts of the project, such as the HVAC and fire protection design and project management.
The main difference between our OpCos is the expertise in Green Buildings. Belgium is indeed much more advanced in this field and already took part in many big projects. This way I could learn a lot from them and bring back home new competences. Another difference is in terms of language barrier: Belgium is separated in two parts, the French-speaking Wallonia and Flemish-speaking Flanders. The communication and collaboration between the two is thus challenging. For example, their common meetings are hold in English.
The first advice I could give to someone who is looking for a Quest is: do not hesitate to do it, it is a great experience! Then in order to find a host OpCo, ask around you, connect on Yammer. Many people will be happy to welcome you.
Aurélie Simon, ARCADIS DE