(ID:365) Symbiosis in Development method...toolkit ... full spectrum sustainability

Except - Integrated Sustainability
Except is a co-operative of 30 sustainability strategists, designers, scientists and engineers. Our mission is to create the foundations of a sustainable society, since 1999. We develop resilient concepts, manage complex processes with experience and insight, design innovative solutions, and bring together partners and stakeholders in this process.

AddressStadhuisplein 15, 3012 AR, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
ContactElke Miedema, Architect & Project leader, elke@except.nl
Line of industryConsulting and Design services; Research; Welfare
Area of expertiseDesign; Sustainability
Size11-50 employees

Role of company/organisation

Except is an inter-disciplinary co-operative of 30 scientists, designers, engineers and communicators. Together we develop integrated solutions that work better for people, the environment, and are economically resilient. We stand by our partners from concept to execution, provide strategy, research, design, and manage implementation. In this process we make sure all partners are aligned, supplied with the best expertise needed, and develop new business models that work by combining our partner network with local stakeholders.Our role therefore is best utilized in an early-on strategic position where concepts and overarching plans are created, and where systems analysis and design has its greatest value.

Opportunities for collaboration

We’ve developed pioneering sustainable projects since 1999, and run many projects in all sectors relevant to urban transformation, including, food production, logistics, finance, ecosystem design, knowledge management, housing, and social justice. One of our running programs is Urban Renaissance, which develops resilient and flourishing urban areas. UR brings together key partners in the building, social, and financial industries to transform our communities towards long term sustainability and short term results. Our experience with setting up frameworks for cooperation and larger transformation processes is valuable for the process of making Eindhoven Sustainable. For us, cooperation, and managing the cooperative process, is key to the success of any project. Our partner network includes universities, international corporations, innovative small businesses, industrial producers, and government agencies.

Description of idea

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Eindhoven has the opportunity to become the smartest, most innovative and most sustainable city in the world. We imagine a sustainable, flourishing and beautiful Eindhoven where people are happy to live, play, learn, and work. A city where all resource flows are circular, where essential resources are built on bio-based processes, where the urban environment is flexible and diverse and adapts itself to our fast changing culture, and which is a foundation for a new economic reality that is resilient and attuned to all local stakeholders. Except brings insight and experience from over twenty disciplines from a strategic level down to design and implementation. By gathering the perspectives from these disparate fields we form context-sensitive solutions that work better in all dimensions. Combined with the expertise, knowledge and experience of the Municipality of Eindhoven, we believe we are able to assist in creating a truly sustainable city in the long term.. Sustainability touches upon all aspects of society. So does our work. Our Symbiosis in Development (SiD) method defines sustainability as a property of dynamic societal systems, and provides a toolkit to work on the full spectrum of sustainability including energy and materials, ecosystems and biodiversity, culture and economy and happiness and wellbeing. SiD is a systemic approach that lets us see through the complexity of dynamic systems, finds more opportunities and prevents negative impacts in the future. This is how we would approach the challenge, in close cooperation with the Municipality and the elected partners: - Urban scan; thoroughly investigating the buildings and surroundings for sustainability potential with systems-mapping. In depth interviews with client, users and other stakeholders. - Strategy and finance; together we develop a strategy for the redevelopment to be cost-effective, business-smart and successful in the short and long-term, and bring together the key partners to do enable this. - Design and engineering; we create context-sensitive design to make the strategy work, and redevelop the buildings into an inspiring, beautiful and sustainable system that pioneers new sustainable strategies, embedded ecosystems, and self-sufficient operations. - Execution and activation; we guide the process of use, monitor and maintain quality control, and create the global PR necessary to increase occupation and value. We continue to remain invested over time and develop new cooperatives and sustainable innovations on the locations. We believe this method could assist the Municipality of Eindhoven to become energy neutral by 2045, turn itself into a sustainable, flourishing and beautiful city by including include all relevant disciplines and expertise. We want to create lasting value for the residents, the users, Eindhoven’s inhabitants and other stakeholders, and realize a global example while doing it.

Illustrating fileEindhoven Slim Verduurzamen.pdf
Type of ideaservice
Category of ideatechnical; design; work flow; financial
Enabling conditionsThe Natural step and SiD say that true sustainability requires the understanding of the full complexity and spectrum of societal systems in time and space. This understanding is best developed as early as possible, and requires the resources to perform in-depth systemic analysis and route mapping. We work in interdisciplinary teams of scientists, engineers, designers and business developers, between 5 and 8 people, including a process manager who enables the active involvement of (future) users, project partners, and local stakeholders. Our process benefits from the active contribution of all key players. To facilitate this process we recommend creating a SiD innovation lab, a central working space and nerve-center where both long term strategy and short term action and design plans are made together.

Stage of development

Proven innovation: it has been used in practice on a small scale.

Substantiation stage of development

Two of our projects: Rotterdam Collective The Rotterdam Collective (Ro-Co) is the materialization of a “new way of working” which activates independent professionals as one collective entity. Ro-Co is both an empowered network and a physical location where people love to work and play. It’s been successful in working towards its goals since December 2009, in the center of Rotterdam. Schiebroek-Zuid Sustainable Schiebroek-Zuid converts a post-war social housing area Schiebroek-Zuid in Rotterdam, into a self-sufficient, resilient, and sustainable area in a 30 year trajectory, commissioned by Vestia in 2010. The project runs since 2011, and created over 60 food gardens, greenhouses, restaurants, shops, and new development. Schiebroek has become more socially connected, economically resilient, safer and more enjoyable by the residents.

Provability contribution to sustainability

Proven contribution to sustainability; this has been shown in practice.

Step in the right direction

We applied the SiD method in Schiebroek-Zuid, where it combines socio-economic programs and proven technologies to create a closed-loop urban metabolism, providing all energy, water, waste processing and 80% food production locally. This was a world first for an area which transforms a neighborhood without demolition. The approach and the solutions it delivered was received with enthusiasm by Vestia, and a recent working-visit to the area shows significant progress towards the 30 year development goals. Similar results can be seen in projects such as the San Francisco Transbay Terminal, proving that urban transformation using renovation is a powerful driver for urban change. We apply this approach with all our clients with success, among them WWF, Eneco, Ahold, City of Rotterdam, Gemeente Utrecht and the Rijksgebouwendienst.

Flexible idea

To create a truly sustainable building, area, or city, we believe resilience is key. Resilience is the ability for a system to adapt itself to changing realities, function efficiently for all stakeholders, have lasting value, and maximize beneficial ecosystems and biodiversity. In current society it’s impossible to have zero negative environmental impact, taking into account all suppy chain impacts. We work towards a different reality, where it can be not only zero impact, but a positive contribution to itself and its surrounding areas in the long term. This is not easy, cannot be achieved over night, but realizing and understanding the complexity of the challenge we guarantee a long term focus on achieve the highest possible performance for people, our environment, and a flourishing economy.

Good investment

The SiD-process always delivers integrated solutions, combining financial requirements, ecological and social values with societal needs and challenges. In the case of the Rotterdam Collective we redeveloped an old building, created an innovative community supported by a proven business case. In the case of Schiebroek-Zuid we applied innovative energy solutions, various urban farming methods, social and economic programmes, secondary currencies, and adaptive redevelopment strategies. These were all coupled to ensure a viable financial balance.


With pleasure we offer you this proposal. We gladly offer our cooperation, the SiD methodology, our team of 30 multi-disciplinary experts, and our 14 years of knowledge and experience with solving complex sustainability challenges.

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