by Tom Bosschaert

Aug. 10, 2018

Tom Bosschaert

Dear friends and partners, In the midst of a heatwave in the Netherlands, and one to come to Europe in August, we’re excited to share some hot news with you. Our ReGen Villages sustainable masterplan got planning approval and was covered by Fast Company. The Wadden Sea Experience Center is making big steps towards realization, we started working with Heineken on making them more sustainable, and kicked off a cooperation with the Egyptian government. Enjoy this and more news below, and hope to see you soon in our sundrenched office in Utrecht.

ReGen Villages

Fast Company covered ReGen Villages this week, for which we made the masterplan, urban design, and metabolic engineering.

ReGen Villages is a unique housing area with 203 self-sustaining homes, providing their own electricity, water, food, and waste processing. It is a model for affordable, regenerative living, soon to become a reality in the city of Almere. Read about the project and our design here.

Wadden Sea World Heritage Experience Center

The development of The Wadden Sea Experience Center is moving forward. Financing of €29 million is a fact, and Danish architect Dorte Mandrup was selected last April as the architect of the center, the design shown above.

The center is expected to open in 2020, as an international knowledge and awareness center to the UNESCO World Heritage area. It connects entrepreneurship, education, research, and sustainability, while supporting the local economy and the natural surroundings. We’re excited to see the concept we worked on together with 27 partners become reality.

Egypt on the way to Sustainable Desert Farming

In June, we reached a principal agreement with the Egyptian government to start developing an industry for large scale sustainable desert food production.

Egypt's government is focused on booting up large scale food production in the desert. This provides food security, jobs, and helps to alleviate the country's 3.4$ billion trade deficit. This is also a chance to create a truly sustainable food system for Egypt and beyond. That massive opportunity to benefit the world's food supply is the reason we worked with partner ESCI and the Egyptian government since 2016 to establish a large scale integrated sustainable farming industry.

In June, our director Tom Bosschaert, together with ESCI's Professor Hany el Kateb, met with a group of 20 stakeholders and the Minister of Military Production in Egypt. They reached a principal agreement to start a demonstration project on a site near Cairo. The project combines agroforestry-based field agriculture, aquaculture, sustainable greenhouse production, as well as a living and working community village. Stay tuned for more updates this year.

DOB Ecology partner forum

Just before the visit to Egypt, we hosted and facilitated with leaders in nature conservation and preservation in South Africa at the first ever DOB Ecology Partners Forum.

DOB Ecology supports a broad variety of programs active both in South America and in Africa. Their mission is to protect and restore threatened ecosystems, and (re)build the conditions for resilient livelihoods of local communities. They do this by supporting leading organizations in these conservation and preservation areas.

To support these partners we co-facilitated a 5 day gathering in South Africa, in the Gouritz Biosphere Reserve, inspired by Theory-U and the Symbiosis in Development (SiD) framework. Watch the video for an impression of these inspiring days.

SiD trainings

Increasingly in demand, our SiD Integrated Sustainability trainings are on a roll. Freek van der Pluijm, an expert in sustainability frameworks and senior trainer and facilitator, has joined us as our Training and Knowledge Management program manager. Freek has already boosted the frequency of the training, and is setting up a host of new events.

Filled to the brink, the June training saw 12 people inspired and boosted with deep knowledge of integrated sustainability and the SiD framework. Now, 14 different kind of events, including 8 intro SiD trainings, a summer and a winter school, and 8 themed sessions, are on the calendar. The next SiD trainings are planned in September and November, with the November training already sold out. So sign up quickly, or hold your breath for the announcement on our upcoming trainings in December and January…

The Strength of (Over)vecht

Growth and necessary renovation is coming fast to the city district of Overvecht in Utrecht, the Netherlands. In a project initiated by Architecture Center AORTA, we worked with a collective of designers and experts and developed an opportunities map for the district to boost its resilience.

The map focuses on three themes: Healthy & Social, Water & Climate, Energy & Circular. Within the theme Energy & Circular, we looked at possibilities for sourcing electricity and heat locally and sustainably, to eliminate the need for natural gas. We presented a mix of solutions spatially, and their most viable area of application. The results were shown in Overvecht and at the municipality in April and May, and the online publication can be found here.

The Utrecht Community (UCo) enters a new phase

Since its opening in September of last year, the center for sustainable entrepreneurship in Utrecht, the Utrecht Community (UCo), has gone through rapid changes. UCo has now transitioned with its first new community-driven board.

The new board officially closes our development phase, which started in 2011. The new board is composed of community members as well as external members, and they took the first steps towards an UCo-wide strategic program. Next on the drawing board are public programs for city development, and the development of nation wide sustainability programs.

Heineken towards a more sustainable future

The Heineken® brand has asked us to aid them in their quest to become more sustainable. In that regard we are developing a roadmap and will be supporting them in current and new projects that are beneficial towards that goal. Stay tuned for more.

In autumn we will be back with a theme-based newsletter focusing on the ways we can translate valuable science on sustainability into applicable real-life solutions. If you have any specific interests for future themes, feel free to reach out and let us know.

Enjoy your holidays,

The Except team

Aug. 10, 2018