The Twickel estate embraces circularity and sustainability

The Twickel estate is the historic heart of Twente. Twickel is almost 7 centuries old and is located in the centre of Twente. The characteristic castle is distinctive for the image of Twente and well-known throughout the Netherlands. It is a place where culture and nature blend harmoniously. Twickel is the largest private estate in the Netherlands; it consists of 4300 hectares and 200 buildings, 80% of which are monumental. However, the age of the buildings and the need for conservation also raise problems immediately. How can you run such an estate in a future-proof way, in a world where sustainability is so crucial? Jacco Hulst, construction manager of the estate, found a few solutions for this. During his pitch for GROW Green on November 19, 2019, he shared these beautiful ideas with us.

In short

  • Grow Green is looking for sustainable doers with ideas that propose solutions for a circular economy. 
  • During Social Impact Day, Jacco Hulst shared the solutions he uses at the Twickel estate.

Global Goal

global goal icon
Wood-fired boiler

A beautiful estate like this one must, of course, be preserved, and this requires maintenance and rebuilding. Jacco is responsible for all real estate within the organisation. During Social Impact Day, Jacco explained which solutions they propose in this area, and where the bottlenecks lie. Old buildings are, of course, not energy-efficient, so a wood-fired boiler was installed in 2013 to make the estate more sustainable. This boiler heats the castle, the outbuildings and the workshops. “We used to burn 60,000 cubic metres of gas, but we now do this with 800 tons of wood. The wood is all from the Twickle estate’s forest. All of it is waste wood. We do not prune or cut down healthy trees for this.” We can see the essence of Grow Green here: focusing on a circular economy. Waste products become raw materials; in this case waste wood becomes a raw material for producing heat. The fact that the heat is produced from local waste products is also important. Not having to transport goods or energy reduces the world’s CO2 emission. Jacco is very happy with this investment. It works well, and options for expansion are being investigated. Other buildings, such as the hotel in Delden, could also benefit from this sustainable warmth.

Sustainable monumental buildings

Whenever a farm on the estate is available, it is made more sustainable. “That is our drive: how can we become more sustainable in the construction industry”, Jacco says. “We have just completed the first energy-neutral national monument at Twickel.” A horizontal soil heat exchanger has been installed. It heats the water and provides the heat in homes. Besides that, more obvious solutions have been used, such as solar panels, heat pumps, vacuum insulated glass and small wind turbines.

Local food cycle

The final solution Jacco is working on at Twickel is a local food chain. “We have our own vegetable garden and farm gardens, where we grow fruit and vegetables. We are looking into opportunities to sell them, and if there are enough people in the region that are willing to buy them.” You can read Willem Kruidhof’s story here. He also held a pitch about the importance of a local food cycle during Social Impact Day as part of GROW Green. Much added value is leaving Twente by only selling semi-finished products and importing food. It is also better for the environment if (a part of) our vegetables and fruit do not have to come from other continents.


Jacco does encounter a few dilemmas. How do you maintain a good balance between reusing old materials and sustainability? This tension between sustainability and the desire to preserve historical heritage involves making difficult decisions. Keeping all these projects affordable is also a problem, Jacco encounters. Making these old farms more sustainable costs a lot of money, so how can they be sold for a reasonable price on the market afterwards? Moreover, it is, of course, very important to make money in the long run. These types of projects only remain interesting if profits can be made. “The Baroness only gave us one assignment: maintaining the estate. So how nice is it if we can do that with an energy-neutral Twickel?” Do you want to help Jacco? If you have ideas, please contact us and send an email to!

Date: 13 January 2020 |

Source of tekst: |