by Tom Bosschaert

June 11, 2013

Tom Bosschaert

Dear friends, colleagues and partners, We have a lot to share, with new inspiration and fresh energy in the spring, including updates about new services, projects, a completed Quickscan and we welcome a veritable platoon of new Except members. As always, we keep being inspired and grateful for the support we're receiving from around the world, thanks from all of us!

Most recent news:

In this half-day masterclass about the City of Tomorrow you'll learn about sustainability, systems thinking, and resilience design, using SiD and coached by our own experts. The day is filled with a small group of max. 15 people, fresh visions, and new insights.

Because this is our first new masterclass we offer a €100,- one-time discount, so sign up quickly for one of the 15 spots and pay €195,- (ex. VAT) instead of €295,- pp. 


Expedition Greenland is a 6-day life-changing experience combining a journey with in-depth sustainability training. Participants travel to the Arctic together to learn Except’s system approach to sustainability, social and personal leadership.

The deadline is approaching fast (July 15th), so be sure to register. Organized together with the Expedition Factory.


Brand new developments:

Urban Renaissance is a brand new framework to redevelop neighborhoods, cities and regions into beautiful self-sufficient places where people want to live and work. This strategic approach involves all stakeholders in the process from initiation to living realization.

Urban Renaissance builds on the strongest asset of any neighborhood: its people. Bottom-up redevelopment based on the community is energetic, fast, and effective. We combine this with sustainable life-cycle science, finance strategy, and blue economy principles, resulting in neighborhoods that are self-sufficient in energy, water, waste and food, long term job creation, and combines them in a plan that works financially. Read more here and contact Arjan for more details.


We have a new program for inspiration, vision and insight; What is 'sustainability' really, and how do I use it in my advantage? How can we realize long-term profits, while also providing value for society? Learn about systems thinking, resilience, the circular economy, and other topics in case-studies and apply them to your own situation.

We offer various programs, from lunch sessions to intensive team masterclasses, and work with our experts on case studies. Read more here, and contact Chantal to book your session today.


This exciting office-jungle in a glass cocoon is an energy-neutral plug-in retrofit for empty industrial real-estate. Crystal Forest is a result from our own exploration in retrofitting an abandoned shipyard in Amsterdam for a collaborative office space.

The Crystal Forest's modular system can be built and removed quickly on virtually any location, and offers a feasible business case for a wide variety of real estate challenges, including adaptive re-use of industrial hertiage. Do you know an empty warehouse that asks for new life?

Completed projects

The Hortus Celestia is a vertical farm tower designed for Naaldwijk, the Netherlands, commissioned by SIGN. The tower rises 28 stories high above the greenhouse-filled landscape, offering 14 farming floors with embedded expo centers. It combines breeding of various plants with a showcase for agricultural innovations and a panoramic roof garden.

News travels fast! We're excited to see the Hortus Celestia picked up by Inhabitat, City Farmer, Agritecture, and Imago Bouwers


Oliveira creates value for companies with smart maintenance programs for machines and equipment, with a team of 60 people. We used our brand-new IQS system to measure Oliveria's sustainability performance and impact on society, and figure out the best way forward. The results include energy savings, improved employee satisfaction, and better alignment with partners in their supply chain.

Completing the first full IQS has been an interesting journey, producing a number of new insights that strengthen future trajectories. Curious? Contact Tim Horsten for more details on our full-spectrum IQS scan.


This vision creates a new social and ecological perspective on Tilburg's district heating network, considering economical feasibility throughout. Essent, Gemeente Tilburg, Attero BV, Brabant Water and MOED made a green deal to collaborate and we were excited to work with them to realize some unique pathways forward...

The vision outlines the best transition towards a more sustainable and diverse district heating network, as well as how to anticipate on changes in the building and energy sector. Find out more here, or ask Michiel

The award winning fusion restaurant Miya’s Sushi in New Haven, CT, places heaven on your tongue, while being the forefront of social and environmental sustainability. To aid in this, we helped select the most low-impact fish, and produced a unique graphic menu for internal and external use. See the maps here!

From the menu: "Congratulations for making the choice to help the environment. All of the seafood used in our menu is sustainable to the very best of our abilities.”. If you have a chance, go eat at Miya's, you've never eaten more sustainably, or more delicious!


Community updates and events

It already seems ages ago when we celebrated our 13th birthday. Games, dancing, smiles and beats from DJ Mees make great memories. To kick-off 2013 we went to the Veluwe for our Winter Retreat, bringing new inspiration, good food and long nights.

Our last Grid Night, focused on Health, inspired everyone with a presentation from systems-psychologist Renske Kroeze, an enchanting tale by Bryony Burns, and Victor Mids tricked our brains with neurocognitive illusionism. Yes, we have photo's!

Our annual sustainability workshop for Except members was great fun, including role-playing and combining different expertises. We had a close look at Hotel New York, mapping their sustainability performance. The results were inspiring and ranged from technical solutions for energy, food and waste, to social engagement and education projects. Want to take part in our events? Let us know. 

Tom and Noémie traveled to Detroit to visit RecoveryPark, an initiative of Gary Wozniak to create jobs, recover urban wasteland and provide food in the widespread food deserts. To support with innovative vision, design and technology, Except organized a consortium of Dutch partners including Posad, Rebel Group, Priva and the Dutch Consulate General of Chicago. See an impression here.

Tom traveled to California to visit the Bay-area Urban Organic Resource Network (BUORN) and explore opportunities for redeveloping the Bay View area. A future vision embracing sustainability can create jobs, improve social engagement and supply fresh food by indoor farming, turning Bay View into a self-sustaining and resilient place to live.

Except is one of a few hand-selected innovative firms represented in the new book by Indira van ‘t Klooster, called Reactivate!. The book analyzes the current professional landscape and calls out examples of progressive new models of working, of which Except is one. The book was presented in Pakhuis de Zwijger.


This article discusses 5 simple questions that increase the understanding of a system you are dealing with. Instead of describing the world as a series of singular events, system thinking interprets the world as a whole, like an interconnected network. Seeing how the parts of a system work together reveals the complexity that is easily missed. Can you answer these questions for topics you are working on? Do they clarify insights and help understanding complexity?


We're very glad to welcome several talented new members in our midst:

  • Gijs Broos is a business strategist that combines the mind of a sociologist and urban strategist with entrepreneurial rigor to explore the fundamentals of society.
  • Merel Segers manages to mix a unique combination of science, design, and communication. As an industrial ecologist, science communicator and industrial designer her expertise stretches from problem analysis and strategy formulation to concrete activities like writing and graphical work.
  • Walter Faaij travelled the world from Greenland to Iraq. Trained as an anthropologist, he enjoys tackling problems from the inside out.
  • Renske Kroeze's aim is to transform the state of psychological and societal systems, and by leveraging the realm of systems-psychology to transform the status quo towards a sustainable society.
  • Noémie Benoit is a an environmental engineer and architect, aiming support and accelerate the transition to sustainability. She combines engineering and design skills with a strong holistic approach.
  • Hidde van der Lijn is Except's resident millipede. His uncanny ability to learn virtually everything in a heartbeat when he sets his mind to it gives our office organizational superpowers.
  • Chantal Klaver is our new learning and leisure expert.
  • Punita Koustubhan has roots in NY, Boston and Bangalore. Punita strengthens Except USA by combining her background in biology and marine science with her love for nature and knowledge about ecosystems. Punita can build aquaponic farms single handedly, while also working on urban transformation projects.
  • Marcos Spinella journeyed from a career in electrical engineering and industrial plant management to the world of sustainable food production. He revamped himself as an expert in Permaculture and Polyculture systems and works the Asian front from Bangkok to realize new sustainable food farms.



We couldn't have done all this work without people like yourself, those on twitter, facebook, or in late night inspiration sessions, or without your constructive feedback we receive. Let us know what you think in the comments on our site.

We wish you a beautiful spring and summer. Enjoy the sun!

June 11, 2013