Except Integrated Sustainability launches a new approach to sustainable urban development: Catalytic Buildings. Catalytic Buildings are next generation high performance buildings that boost the economic, social, and physical sustainability of entire urban areas. Going beyond energy-neutral buildings, a Catalytic Building enhances the autonomy, resilience and/or the equity of the system within which it exists – be it a single neighborhood or an entire city. The white paper sets out the concept and rules, and gives practical examples. Read more about it here and download the whitepaper PDF below.

The built environment  is in the spotlight in the global sustainability conversation. Cities are responsible for two-thirds of the global energy demand comes from urban centres, as well as the 70% of CO2 emissions.  According to  the United Nations, by the year 2050 over 70% of global population   will live in cities. Today, the building and construction sector account for a large proportion  of the globe's finite resources exploited each year;   40% of worldwide energy use, 30% of energy-related greenhouse gas emission, nearly 12% of water use, and almost 40% of waste.

Accordingly, the greatest challenges for human development in the Anthropocene will take place in increasingly under pressure urban centers. To rise to the challenge, architects, urban planners, developers and local governance  must integrate their approach and begin to look beyond the individual building. Green architecture, water-, energy- neutral buildings and, more recently, circular buildings are often identified as the silver bullets needed to steer the whole construction sector on the right track. However, building-centric frameworks fall short in adequately reflecting the complexities of sustainable urban development.

We at Except advocate for  more holistic approaches to sustainability, where cities, communities and the construction sector need to come together. This white paper makes the case for the pressing need to set the bar higher than  BREEAM and LEED , and instead turn to integrated perspectives when envisioning the future of high-performance, sustainable buildings. We start by giving it a name; introducing Catalytic Buildings.

Read the whitepaper below to learn more about why, what, and how.


To truly confront the needs of 21st century cities, development must steer towards buildings that actively contribute to their surrounding locales. Tom continues: “If a building is entirely energy efficient whilst the entire city crumbles, will its inhabitants thrive? The answer is an obvious ‘no’. So why are we solely focusing on internal performance when it is only part of the issue?”

“A catalytic building is one building which enhances the resilience of the existing urban environment that it inhabits,” he says. “They’re the Formula 1 of high performing buildings. They go beyond the limits of LEED Platinum or BREEAM Outstanding and become a vital organ in the fabric of their surroundings.”

“Catalytic Buildings give direction to the aim of performance of smart cities. If you start thinking about the system as a whole, and the building as a part of that system, you begin understanding the potentials for a neighborhood approach to urban development. You don’t need to rewire the entire city for it to make a large impact.”

“The building is a tool in itself. A catalytic building leverages what a neighborhood has to offer and actively improves it. They do this in a physical sense, but also in a social and economic sense,” he concludes. “This is about bridging gaps between urban planning and architecture, as well as going beyond the physical core of the building. Catalytic buildings open up new, innovative business models for investors and developers which are just waiting to be tapped”.

Tom Bosschaert
by Tom Bosschaert

25 februari 2019