Except Integrated Sustainability was founded in 1999 in Delft, the Netherlands, by Tom Bosschaert at 19 years of age. While studying Industrial Design Engineering at the Delft University of Technology, Tom found both the educational and the corporate world wanting for strategies and innovative approaches to global problems such as environmental destruction, poverty, hunger, and climate change. Tom set out to change this, founding Except and embarking on a life-long learning trajectory to not just find smart answers for pressing questions, but also to develop better tools and frameworks to help answer these questions. Tom worked with a network of freelancers and partners to enable the first projects to try out new strategies.
In Perth, Australia, the first edition of what later became the Symbiosis in Development (SiD) framework was first used as a strategy. SiD was applied as a pilot to help find a solution for a struggling rural community in Western Australia. SiD's integrated approach brought together physical, environmental, economic, cultural, and social concerns in a single strategy and design process. The result was an unexpected, resounding success; a profitable community project that has systemic environmental and social benefits, in the form of a Spirulina algae farm.
Following this proof of working with SiD to find better solutions to societal challenges, Tom had Except both realize actionable change, and further develop SiD as a free, open source framework for systemic sustainable development. Except's team grew, using SiD to answer complex, challenging questions of organizations the world over. At this time, the SiD process adopted more areas of systems thinking and design thinking, and included lessons from Agile project management.
Tom used SiD to develop the seminal concept for the San Francisco Transbay Center / Salesforce park, boosting city wide ecological values, social gain, and a successful business model. The concept won the world's largest architectural competition in the decade. It was realized over a ten year period, and formally opened in 2020. This further proved the power of SiD's integrated, systemic approach.
Except moved its headquarters to Rotterdam, the Netherlands. This coincided with Except's founding its first community of social entrepreneurs, the Rotterdam Collective (Ro-Co). Since then, Ro-Co has supported more than 480 social entrepreneurs and is ongoing.
Except published its masterplan for the conversion of the social housing neighborhood Schiebroek-Zuid. Ahead of its time, the plan enabled the transition of a problematic social housing area into a flourishing, socially connected community, driven by ecosystem services. The financially feasible masterplan designed the area to become energy neutral, water neutral, socially connected, and provides >50% of its food needs from local soil. A breakthrough for social housing around the globe.
the Except Integrated Sustainability Foundation (Stichting) was founded to support the autonomous innovations of the Except team that aim to build the foundations of a sustainable society. The foundation also supports the further development and publication of the Symbiosis in Development (SiD) framework.
Except moved its headquarters to the city of Utrecht, following the opening of its second, larger professional community, the Utrecht Community (UCo). UCo houses over 25 companies and 150 experienced sustainability experts, in an exemplary renovated listed heritage building, designed and developed by Except.
Except counted more than 700 projects worldwide as part of its portfolio, while having trained, supported, and facilitated more than 270 sustainability professionals. This year, the Except Foundation published the first complete book on Symbiosis in Development, spanning almost 20 years of development. The book is available today, fully open-source, and freely available in digital form from the SiD website.
Except chooses to focus on the most pressing problems of our time, with a dedicated and agile team of experienced sustainability professionals from over 8 different countries.