Let’s build a better future
Except Integrated Sustainability B.V. is a sustainability consultancy and design office, founded in 1999. We work globally from our headquarters in the Netherlands on projects that raise the bar in sustainable development. We deliver innovative concepts and strategies for resilient, just, and inspiring cities, organizations, and industry.
We are a passionate, practical, and dynamic team, known for our interdisciplinary and creative approach. Using systems thinking, we have worked on hundreds of projects that combine research, design, business intelligence, and stakeholder engagement into solutions that are both ambitious and feasible. Every step of the way, we work with public and private partners across sectors to advance the frontiers of sustainability and create better futures.
Global in experience and mindset, we are based in Utrecht, the Netherlands. We self-developed our beautifully restored, plant-filled office, as part of our center for sustainable entrepreneurship UCo, a living example of our integrated approach to sustainable urban development.
We didn't get the result we wanted, but the one we needed. In the end, the project finished within budget, within scope, and the result is exactly what we need right now.
Except has excellent knowledge, resources, and a good work ethic. They provided realistic options for significant sustainability improvements of our region with innovative solutions. It couldn’t have been better.
Except has been a purpose-driven enterprise since its founding in 1999. In 2019, we became a certified B Corporation (or B Corp), joining an engaged community of over 2600 businesses globally who are reinventing business by pursuing purpose as well as profit. We are proud to be part of a growing movement of purpose-driven enterprises redefining what it means to be a successful business.
Next to our B-Corp certification, we have actively lived the Except Principles for sustainable development for the last 15 years. These principles guide our organizational ethics and decision making.
Improving the future of our planet, one project at a time
Our projects, partners, and experts span the globe, in two decades, building up an extensive library of international best practices, perspectives, and lessons learned.
We draw from this experience, and add to it with every new project we take on. Take a look at our project archive to read about projects we’ve been able to share over the last 20 years from around the world.
Our ecosystem: the Except Group
Except is an eco-system of organizations, together and in their own way, supporting systemic sustainable development. Together, the Except Group enables a wide range of partners to join forces and make a real difference.
The Except Group is spearheaded by the Except Integrated Sustainability Foundation, a certified non-profit (stichting) registered in the Netherlands. Consultancy projects are managed by Except Integrated Sustainability BV, and Except Sustainable Ventures BV manages investible development projects.
In 2009 we published the Except Company principles, which we adhere to since then. This stringent ethical framework ensures our work is always fair, transparent, independent, and quality controlled, among other values. These princples surpass B-Corp requirements, and set a new standard for social entrepreneurs worldwide. They promote the practice of far-reaching health and wellbeing for employees and stakeholders, including a 4 day workweek, full workplace autonomy, profit sharing, and a strong diversity policy. Read about Except’s company principles for sustainable development here.
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 find better ways to answer these questions. Tom worked with a network of freelancers and partners to enable the first projects to try out new strategies.
In 2000, 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 first a pilot to help find a resolve to 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 has been working with Except to both realize actionable change, and further develop SiD as a free, open source framework for systemic sustainable development. Except's team grew, using to SiD answer complex, challenging questions of organizations the world over, as well as further developing the SiD framework itself. At this time, the SiD process adopted more areas of systems thinking and design thinking, and included lessons from Agile project management.
In this time, in 2006, 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.
In 2009, Except moved its headquarters to Rotterdam, the Netherlands. This coincided with Except's founding of its first community of social entrepreneurs, the Rotterdam Collective (Ro-Co). Since then, Ro-Co has supported more than 480 social entrepreneurs, when writing in 2020, and is ongoing.
In 2011, 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 masterplan designed the area to become became energy neutral, water neutral, socially connected, and providing >50% of its food needs from local soil. Financially feasible. A breakthrough for social housing around the globe.
In 2014, 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.
In 2017, 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.
In 2019, 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.
Today, 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.