Climbing on the roofs of Brussels: a different kind of job
  • Article

Climbing on the roofs of Brussels: a different kind of job

Erik Severs visits the public buildings of the Brussels region to identify roofs suitable for fitting photovoltaic panels.

When you’ve spent 20 years of your working life visiting cellars and high-voltage cabinets, often underground, and then find yourself on the roof of an eight-storey building, your world has turned upside down! When Erik Severs put his vertigo to the test a year ago, it was for a noble cause: to reduce CO2 emissions in Brussels by increasing the proportion of renewable energy produced. 

Did you say SolarClick?

The SolarClick programme is intended to equip 150 public buildings in Brussels with photovoltaic panels by 2020, representing 12.5 MWc of power. Initiated by the Brussels Region, the project is being carried out by Sibelga, with the particular responsibility of implementing the SolarClick programme for constructing and maintaining these photovoltaic installations and identifying buildings suitable for having them fitted. 

After an initial selection of potential buildings based on information received by local authorities (municipal, paramunicipal and regional), Erik’s mission consists of making site visits to assess the potential of each roof and note their characteristics.

Brussels seen from the air

“I am getting to know Brussels in a new way,” says Erik as he shows us some pictures taken during his technical visits. “During my career with Sibelga I have had to visit some high-voltage cabinets and read meters on roofs, of course, but that was the exception!” 

His lofty mission has brought our colleague some unexpected experiences. “When I visited Chaussée de Mons fire station in Anderlecht they gave me the choice: ladder or boom truck? I opted for the second solution. It’s not every day you have the chance to make that kind of crazy dream come true!” 

Another time, on a visit to a Vivaqua site in Etterbeek, Erik found himself in a huge cistern dating from 1877, with a capacity of 20,000 m³, which had been emptied for maintenance. It was a spectacle few inhabitants of Brussels have the chance to see.  

At the mercy of the elements

But despite these unusual experiences, working on the roof is no picnic. “On the roof, you’re at the mercy of the elements,” he explains. “When it’s windy or raining, it’s a good idea to be warmly dressed. “During the last few weeks, the winter weather has not been particularly kind to our colleague. But no visit has yet had to be cancelled because of bad weather. 

Now, as the sunshine returns, Erik will enjoy some fantastic views of the capital!

SolarClick - photo groupe