Except Integrated Sustainability was founded in 1999 by 19-year-old Tom Bosschaert while studying Industrial Design Engineering at the Delft University of Technology. Tom quickly found that both the academic and the corporate worlds were in dire need of more innovative and systemic strategies to address complex and global problems such as environmental destruction, poverty, hunger, and climate change.
Except was the vessel to set out and change this. Upon its foundation, Tom embarked on a lifelong journey and learning trajectory to not just find answers for our most pressing concerns but to develop better tools and frameworks to help address them.
In Perth, Australia, the first edition of what later became the Symbiosis in Development (SiD) framework, Except's comprehensive, integrated system thinking methodology, was first used to help find a solution for a struggling community in rural Western Australia.
SiD's integrated approach brought together the physical, environmental, economic, cultural, and social concerns in a single strategy and design process. The result was an unexpected, resounding success - a profitable Spirulina algae farm and community project with systemic environmental and social benefits.
Following this proof of working with SiD to find better solutions to societal challenges, Tom further developed SiD as a free, open-source framework for systemic, sustainable development. Except's team grew, using SiD to answer complex, challenging questions of organizations worldwide. 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 decade's most significant global architectural competition. Realized over a decade and formally opened in 2020, this further proved the timeless power of SiD's integrated systemic approach.
Except moved its headquarters to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, coinciding with Except's founding of its first community of social entrepreneurs, the Rotterdam Collective (Ro-Co). Ro-Co is still operating and has supported approximately 500 social entrepreneurs since its opening.
Except published its master plan for converting the social housing neighborhood Schiebroek-Zuid. A project ahead of its time, enabling the transition of a problematic social housing area into a flourishing, socially connected community driven by ecosystem services. The financially feasible master plan ensured the site became energy and water neutral, socially connected, and provided >50% of its food needs from local production —a global breakthrough for social housing.
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. Additionally, this project supported 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 heritage-listed 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 eight different countries.