Blog 26: Back in London to meet the designers and builders of the 2012 Olympics site.

The 2012 London Olympics was a great achievement also in terms of the green infrastructure deployed. The CEO had been an Australian who had worked on the 2000 Sydney Olympics site development and a key member of the sustainable infrastructure design and project management team was Holly Knight, an environmental engineer, who later came to be the infrastructure manager at Murdoch University where I met her. Holly gave an excellent presentation on her work at the London Olympics to our research group EELS and also to our sustainable urban water students. You can see her presentation here with wonderful graphics:

HollyKnight09092014emailsize.pptx (Read-Only)

Holly advised me to meet Richard Jackson who had been her boss in the Olympics project. Richard now heads up the sustainability team at University College London:

and there are now a range of sustainability projects underway at UCL within the Estates Group:

Richard advised that from his learnings at the Olympics site he was now assisting the Estates team put systems in place to manage the transition to sustainable infrastructure and retrofit projects.

Holly had also advised me to meet Daniel Goodwin at London Olympic Park. It is a beautiful and massive site to walk around with what seemed to me to be marvellous landscape design:

photo 5

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4

photo 7 photo 8 photo 9 photo 10 photo 11

There are many areas still under construction, as was intended to make this a legacy project, thereby creating many new opportunities afterwards for urban renewal and economic development in this great part of London next to the Stratford railway station. Just viewing the landscape is a good start where she “carved out the riverbanks to protect 4,000 homes from the 1/100 year flood (with climate change impact included).” Holly said many venues there are amazing and the velodrome is the most sustainable:

Daniel gave me a great tour of the Old Ford water recycling plant which is in fact a sewer mining project that produces high quality water for landscape irrigation. The report below written by Holly Knight highlights many of the issues and challenges that the project faced and continues to face as expounded by Dan. Of particular concern to the ongoing viability of the plant is the refusal of the Energy Centre on site to take the water for its cooling tower operations which would have been a year round application of the water. Whereas the landscaping water is only required in summer. Therefore in winter the treated wastewater with an embodied energy of 2.5kWh/cum is returned to the main sewer from which it came that services all of North London and sends the sewage along the River Thames to a point near the estuary downstream.

Knight et al 2012 old-ford-case-study

Visiting the Park from Hackney Wick entrance so one can enter via the Energy Centre:

Also via Hackney Wick there is the crate brewery on the other side of the canal which has great beer and pizza and you can sit and look at the energy centre!

There is a second energy centre on the Stratford side (resilience) but it’s not as impressive as the Kings Yard one.

Walking down towards the greenway you will find Old Ford Water Recycling Plant, where I met Dan Goodwin to show me around.

The London Legacy Corporation has forward looking plans for the park here…

Holly recommended also visiting the London Aquatic Centre and going up the Orbit but sadly I had no time to do that! Next time I hope.

Holly Knight is now General Manager Environment Risk and Safety at Rottnest Island Authority off Perth and we plan to work together to develop a new Masters program based on the masters on sustainable built environment that she completed at Cambridge University:


Blog 25: Back in Birmingham for transition to a low carbon economy

After visiting the Birmingham Climate KIC centre and the Birmingham Zero Carbon House last month I came back to attend their excellent workshop on transition to a low carbon economy on June 8.

Europe has set ambitious climate change targets for 2020 and 2030. In Paris in December 2015, a world-wide agreement for new targets to cut CO2 emissions is expected. These goals will affect all aspects of the economy, society and have an wide impact on people’s lives. It will require far-reaching changes to the way we work, live and play. All organisations will be affected to some degree. Increasingly, practitioners operating in a range of sectors are finding that these changes are already taking place.

Incremental change will be inadequate to the task. This is why there is growing interest in a broader transition to a low carbon economy, where a range of actors and regions are involved within the innovation process, not just large companies and universities. The changes will come from SMEs, the public sector, the social economy and citizens themselves. This broader model of innovation, or ‘systems innovation’, is at the heart of European policy.

Climate-KIC is Europe’s largest public-private organisation aimed at tackling climate change. Supported by the European Institute of Technology, it works with companies, organisations and individuals to develop the products, services and solutions needed for the low carbon economy. To help meet Europe’s low carbon ambitions, Climate-KIC will develop a pool of skilled, multidisciplinary practitioners aware of the scale of the challenge and the routes to transition. This enable cities, companies and communities to make the necessary transformations in their daily practice, systems and business models.

This workshop presented some very useful approaches to transition using tools developed by the Dutch Research Institute for Transition (DRIFT).  These practical tools allow individuals to consider how they and their organisations can act strategically in this wide reaching transition. The workshop demonstrated that the shift to a low carbon economy is as much a opportunity, as a challenge.

The workshop was attended by a range of public, private and community sector decision-makers:

  • Provided an introduction to the low carbon agenda, transitions and why systems innovation is crucial.
  • Opened the transitions tool box and gave us an insight into methods that can be used to promote systems thinking and practice.
  • It was an interactive workshop, where we identified the challenges and barriers we face and worked in groups to overcome them.
  • It provided great networking opportunities at the West Midlands’ innovation hub; Innovation Birmingham Campus.

The materials from the workshop are available here:

The powerpoint slide packs #3 and 4 have some very useful information.

Refer to DRIFT here for some excellent resources:

To learn more about transitions, you may find the following video useful. It is from one the leading experts within this field, Professor Frank Geels. It is available here:

He is part of the Sustainability Transitions Research Network and produces a quarterly academic newsletter for transitions, which is accessible from the network website:

“The core problem regarding sustainability transitions is how green innovations and
sustainable practices (in behaviour and policy) struggle against existing systems or
regimes. Incumbent systems in transport, energy, and agri-food domains are difficult to
dislodge because they are stabilized by various lock-in mechanisms (related to vested
interests, low costs, established beliefs, sunk investments, favourable institutions) that lead
to path dependence and entrapment (Unruh, 2000; Walker, 2000). Green innovations and
new practices therefore tend to face an uphill battle”.

No wonder I have been bashing my head against a brick wall all these years!! Time to move on!

The Sustainability Transitions Research Network promotes two frameworks: the ‘multilevel perspective’ (MLP) and the ‘technological innovation systems’ (TIS) approach. The MLP say that transitions come about by means of three interacting processes: 1) niches, the locus for radical innovations, 2) socio-technical regimes, or established organisations, and 3) a socio-technical landscape. The TIS approach focuses on emerging technical innovations. A technological innovation system is defined as a network of agents interacting in the economic/industrial area under a particular institutional infrastructure and involved in the generation, diffusion, and utilisation of technology. Is transition to a low carbon society best achieved by improving the efficiency of existing technologies (i.e. incremental change), by improving processes (e.g. new business models) or from a move towards entirely new systems (e.g. instead of improved fuel efficiency or biofuels or battery power in cars, a transition to mixed mode mobility planning for cities). New transition-focused ‘systemic’ instruments have arisen from a transition research programme in the Netherlands (KSI): transition arena’s, backcasting and transition scenarios, strategic niche management and integrated sustainability assessment. Transition scenarios are descriptions of future states that combine a future image with an account of changes that would need to occur to reach that future. In the new unit I have developed with my colleagues at Murdoch University we are concerned with forward-looking studies, and these may involve radical, structural changes, as is the case with transition management and scenarios.

Blog 24: New sustainability initiatives in London

London is a fabulous city for walking around. And there are an abundance of public bike rentals on the streets and tube stations dotted around if you get tired of walking or need to get from A to B quicker.

As for my tour yesterday I started out from Primrose Hill (West Camden) where nearby there is a lovely canal full of houseboats and the great old Camden Lock. The tour only started however, after my first hot yoga session ever at the Fierce Grace yoga studio also nearby. I love to start my day with a good yoga workout!! I normally start the day with a regular temperature Ashtanga sequence but Fierce Grace was really hot!!

London 1

From there I strolled down to the nearest tube station = Chalk Farm. On the opposite corner to this is a rather striking development by Travelodge who are building a hotel from recycled shipping containers. Each one of these are trucked to the site already fitted out with the interiors and lifted and locked into place with a crane. Another great built form innovation (although it has been done elsewhere, see for example Freitag in Zurich in a more rustic format!!). See Travelodge here (looks like their first one was in Uxbridge London 2008 and then another to follow at Heathrow):

London 4

It looks like this one at Chalk Farm is actually by the Roundhouse Trust:

After departing on the tube train from Chalk Farm Underground I eventually arrived at Covent Garden and found the wonderful urban regeneration area of Neal’s Yard. This was all destined for redevelopment by means of bulldozer until a super champion local young entrepreneur stepped in and rallied the local community to save it for regeneration. You can read a little about this history here:

Now it is beautiful with many cafes, shops, health centres and more along its little cobblestone streets.

London 2

Neal’s Yard is also the name given to a fabulous health products business that arose here Neal’s Yard Remedies (I guess somewhat similar to Body Shop) that has put in place a very good approach to sustainability across its supply chain around the world as its response to climate change and carbon management:

Just around the corner is a modern day Marks & Spencer supermarket and department store integrated into the urban form in a very compact manner. They commenced their sustainability journey with their concept Plan A (because there will be no Plan B!!) launched in 2007 and now rebadged as Plan A 2020 for their future. It is a scheme largely focussed on green supply chain management and also becoming a Carbon Neutral business:

Walking down the road through Covent Garden we go past the refurbished Covent markets, whole banks of swipe card rental bikes, the London Transport Museum showing how even heritage buildings can even be upgraded for sustainability with PV solar panels on the roof and LED lighting throughout and then Boris’ buses and the RV1 route hydrogen fuel cell buses whizzing past.

The Boris bus is a stunner looker that London Mayor Boris Johnson pushed for. These are hybrid diesel-electric and can be read about here:

There are only 8 of the hydrogen buses so far that run the RV1 Waterloo Bridge circuit but its a good start and you can about them here:

Continuing our walk we pass some very old classic street lamps that run on methane from the sewer below would you believe it!!

Then we come to the classic old Savoy Hotel a 5-star beauty and amazing interiors inside to look at and even come for a coffee. Well the Savoy is doing its bit also. It has recently gone through a major renovation and installed occupancy senesors, LED lighting, refrigeration heat recovery and a CHP plant. The Savoy staff are right behind in fact they drove the process for management and even set up a “green team” that take off one day a month to go and clean the Thames River that they overlook:

Heading down The Strand and towards the Waterloo Bridge we pass what was once hundreds of years ago an ancient Saxon village and a Roman fort and now Somerset House where the Sony photo exhibition had just finished with amazing contemporary photographs:

Even Somerset House has gone green with its sustainability program:

Walking across the Thames on Waterloo Bridge is where you can see iconic buildings such as the Gherkin, the Shard, the walkie-talkie and the Lever buildings as well as Coin St Community Builders and the new Black Friars train station that spans the Thames River covered in solar PV panels. As we walk over a massive barge comes down the River we can see is carrying yellow shipping containers and these are apparently full of council waste recycling.

London 3

The Gherkin by globally famed UK architect Norman Foster is not only iconic but has some green features also:

The Shard is perhaps London’s most spectacular building at the moment:

In view also and nearby on Thames Riverbank on top of Charing Cross station is the PWC refurbished building original built in the 1980s. “A challenging live refurbishment of PwC’s 9-storey headquarters at One Embankment Place in London has achieved a milestone 96.31% BREEAM Outstanding score, including a 100% score for materials, transport and management.” With a raft of sustainability features:

The walkie-talkie building as it is lovingly called has also had a go:

The Strata Tower at Elephant Castle is a residential apartment building with an interesting tale with its attend at tower-top wind turbines:

On the River Thames also, the beautiful old Unilever building retrofit is another good example of approaches to sustainability:

And points to the need of massive retrofits all over the country:

So much to be done in the years ahead!!

Blog 23: Following the Dutch social housing retrofits to Birmingham UK

After visiting the Dutch zero net energy social housing projects in Utrecht with construction company BAM responsible for the work and then reading the article in The Guardian:

Where it was planned to launch the same amazing retrofit program in Birmingham to improve the energy efficiency of social housing stock I decided to head there and meet the people behind the program to see how it was rolling out.

Upon arriving in Birmingham I met with Dr Ben Onyido at the Birmingham Innovation Centre on the Aston University campus. Ben is part of the team at the Birmingham regional office of the Climate-KIC, the EU’s main climate innovation initiative.

“Climate-KIC is one of three Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) created in 2010 by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). The EIT is an EU body whose mission is to create sustainable growth. We support this mission by addressing climate change mitigation and adaptation. We integrate education, entrepreneurship and innovation resulting in connected, creative transformation of knowledge and ideas into economically viable products or services that help to mitigate climate change. Our activities are driven by eight climate change themes…” including: The built environment – where the Dutch social housing retrofit program is also promoted:

Ben advised that the rollout of the housing retrofit program had not yet actually started in Birmingham and may not do so until next year. However, their main lighthouse project in Birmingham was the Zero Carbon House by its designer, architect John Christophers, a very effective and stylish retrofit of his terrace house in 2009:

You can have a very quick virtual tour of this beautiful and very intelligent home here:

John has published in 2011 an excellent paper on the house you can read it here: 2014.10.17 ZCH Decarbonising

In fact the house performs so well that local Professor of Zero Carbon Design (Birmingham City University School of Architecture) Lubo Jankovic, decided to include it as the main and singular case study in his excellent book:

Jankovic. L. (2012) Designing Zero Carbon Buildings Using Dynamic Simulation Methods. Routledge. London and New York.

And you can see a profile of Professor Jankovic work here:

and the books details are here;

Blog 22: Another innovative Dutch project – urban renewal at the docklands

An extraordinary project has been unfolding in the docklands of Amsterdam over the last 15 years. Led by artists initially who still occupy many wonderful studios and creative spaces in the huge warehouse building there, the developers and financiers are now moving in to build a wide array of new projects there.

I was lucky enough to be told about this by the Berlin architects visiting De Ceuvel with me and they invited me to join their tour today by the NDSM project initiator, activist urban pioneer bottom-up project booster – Eva de Klerk – an amazing woman.

See also: NDSM.NL

Blog 21: BAM retrofits to social housing in The Netherlands for energy efficiency upgrade

I first learnt about this wonderful social housing retrofit program in The Netherlands from the Rocky Mountain Institute blog and also published on the website of the BAM construction company itself:

BAM has developed some wonderfully innovative techniques in partnership with Dutch housing cooperatives to get their housing to zero net energy – with no additional costs to the tenants!!

Architect and project manager for the comapny BAM Woningbouw W&R-Renovatie Linda van Leeuwen gave me a wonderful tour of the projects and and her presentation which explains the very innovative building technologies used in the retrofit: 20141026 LVL DSV-BAMIERLAND

Have a look at the movies here:

De stroomversnelling – the first movie, with the first 4 prototypes of the 4 builders, its subtitled in English:

 De Stroomversnelling – general movie about the project in Heerhugowaard:

De Stroomversnelling – time laps , project Heerhugowaard:

De Stroomversenlling – movie together with our preferred suppliers:

De Stroomversnelling – residents talking, first 5 houses renovated with residents in the house:

 Transition Zero ( in English ) – includes the project of one of the other builders:

The movie about the 3d modeling:

You can read how the 3D BIM model is developed firstly before retrofit here:

What is it?

In fact, this housing retrofit program comes from a broader Dutch government program called the Energiesprong (Innovation Energy Transition) by the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK). The aim of the program is to transition buildings to a zero energy bill: homes, offices, shops, hospitals. They chase the market and leverage opportunities where they see market being able to make a transition. The starting point is construction but there are other factors that need to be in the transition, better supply, more financial resources, appropriate laws and regulations, and a different attitude. The Energy Transition program encourages innovation firstly by seeking concrete projects to be selected (via a call), and providing process and sometimes financial support. So Energiesprong connects a group of front running parties around these projects, corporations, property owners, investors, owners associations, private owners, municipalities, tenants, developers, designers, contractors and consultants. See also:

One of the key Energiesprong projects is this social housing retrofit program = Stroomversnelling (or RAPIDS). The deal? To retrofit 111,000 zero-the-energy-meter houses, paid for from the energy savings .

Four builders and six housing associations signed June 20, 2013, in the presence of Minister Stef Blok of Housing and National Service, the deal to renovate 11,000 homes to a zero-to-energy-meter house . These 11,000 houses are the prelude to a further 100,000 homes. A high level of renovation, while for the tenants the housing costs (rent + energy) in most cases, remain the same. The funding available for the renovation is in fact found in the renovation itself.

This is possible by the combination of three new ideas:
1. tenants pay their energy to their housing corporation
2. Corporations invest that money in remodeling
3. builders deliver sustainably renovated homes without energy (= zero energy on-the-meter)

This creates a new cash flow for the corporations, which form the basis of financing through the WSW (Social Housing Guarantee Fund) or other financial organizations. With this financing the renovation is funded. So in one jump to make the leap to a zero-energy-to-the-meter house and transfer former energy costs from the residents as part of the monthly payment to the housing corporation, becomes its yield and repayment of the loan.

The resident receives a high quality, and often necessary, renovation, while the monthly rent + energy remain unchanged compared with the current situation. That energy costs are a so-called energy charge (EPV).

What is a zero-to-the-meter house?
On a zero-to-the-meter house are energy-saving features combined with energy-generating equipment (rooftop solar PV), the net energy consumption of a house is reduced to zero in principle. The idea of ​​zero-to-the-meter: the energy that an average household needs for heating (and / or cooling), lighting and appliances, and is reduced through good insulation and intelligent systems and for example, generated by solar panels. For example, a household will for example in the winter need energy from the grids, but give energy back in the summer to the energy company. In this way, the energy meter taken over a year is zero. It is based on average climate and of average use; which will form the basis for the guarantee of zero-to-the-meter building by participating parties. The exact determination of zero-to-the-meter is enshrined in a bill and the guarantee of the individual building lots. Residents will still receive a utility bill, because, in addition to energy, taxes and transportation costs also have to be paid.

For construction companies the leap from a conventional energy standard to zero-to-the-meter is technically possible: with combinations of good insulation, intelligent systems and the use of local renewable energy. For the deal to make a valid business case, it is still necessary for renovation prices to fall sharply. RAPIDS provides the economies of scale with thousands of social housing blocks and builders are able to innovate in product and process, along with co-manufacturers and the supply industry. The Woningrenovatie program gradually gets an industrial character from prototyping of total home concepts. It is expected that a total renovation, including life extension and improved comfort (eg kitchen, bathroom and toilet) will initially cost 80,000 euros and reduce to about 50,000 at full industrialization. These costs depend on the desired performance of home and the stage Rapids is located (prices will gradually decline).

Momentum follows from the start by an innovative approach with a preparation of prototypes. To achieve an industrialized approach of the most common types of housing from the 50s – 70s, an integrated concept is needed. Momentum has started to develop with the concept of an initial prototype through testing to the next prototype to small projects, to gradually establish a production-ready concept for the proposed dwelling types (dwellings, blocks of flats and gallery flats).

The intended phases of renovation are:
Prototyping: september 2013- December 2014 (1,000 homes)
Industrialization: January 2015 – December 2016 (10,000 homes)
Scaling: january 2017 to 2020 (100,000 homes)

The housing corporations involved are; Portal , Lefier , Woonwaard , City Lander , Tiwos and Housing Limburg.

These are teamed up with construction companies; VolkerWessels , BAM , Ballast Nedam and Dura Vermeer.

These companies will lead with the first 11,000 homes. Other parties rally behind the initiative to scale up to the next 100,000 homes: a group of “getters” in the housing sector, including Heem Housing and Residential Company. Various industry associations in construction, installation and supply industry are hooked in: BNA , Building Netherlands , FME , Uneto VNI , NVTB , Contractor Federation , OnderhoudNL , FNV Bouw , CNV Professionals and Conceptual Building Network . They signed, also on June 20, an agreement for support.

This is all documented here:

And now it seems the Dutch are taking this great approach to the UK:

So I plan to visit the program in the UK in London and Birmingham.

This is also promoted by Climate-KIC, a European Commission program of funding from the Horizon 2020 pool of funds that includes the UK and this Energiespring from The Netherlands is being initiated in Birmingham in July with a workshop by the EIT Knowledge & innovation Community:

Blog 19: De Ceuvel in Amsterdam

Now here is a very crazy very Freo place that Ben Alpers and Andrew Hayim would love! It was a treat to visit this place in Amsterdam this week.

De Ceuvel is a planned workplace for creative and social enterprises adjacent to the van Hasselt canal off the river IJ in Amsterdam North. The land was secured for a 10-year lease from the Municipality of Amsterdam after a group of initiators won a tender to turn the site into a regenerative urban oasis. The former industrial plot has been turned into a unique urban eco-development. The site, which is heavily polluted due its former industrial as a boat building and repair yard, features imaginatively retrofitted houseboats placed around a winding timber walkway and surrounded by an undulating landscape of plants able to thrive in the polluted soil. The site was largely clearly of its former facilities so that the houseboats could be brought in and arranged for the new working environment. The soil was so polluted that it was covered with geotextile fabric and then approx 600mm of good quality soil was added on top. The walkways provided additional clearance from potential contact with the polluted soil. Raised beds filled with imported good growing media and soil are used for edible gardens. Each of the upgraded boats house offices, ateliers, and workshops for creative and social enterprises. The site includes a public restaurant, Ceuvel Café, and a bed & breakfast.

One travels to De Ceuvel after arriving at the Amsterdam Central train station by stepping directly outside of the station onto the wharf of the adjacent River Ij and taking the free ferry across the water to the other side. The ferries are going back and forth every few minutes transporting hundreds of pedestrians, cyclists and scooters. There is a ramp at the front of ferry that goes down to dock at wharf and the commuters stream off on the feet or bikes before the next batch storm on board for the trip across. These are vast waterways with massive barges, ferries and tourist boats moving enormous amounts of goods and people around Amsterdam and beyond up rivers like the Rhine and out to the North Sea via a series of lochs. Here in Amsterdam one is actually 8-metres below sea-level. This has been the case for more than 100 years. One could easily imagine this style of water side commuting between Fremantle and North Fremantle on the Swan River in Western Australia.

Once on the other side it is only a 10-15 minute walk to De Ceuval in the nearby industrial canals urban renewal area.

The tour of De Ceuvel was given to a group of postgraduate urban planning students and their staff from Berlin Technical University as well as myself, by Berith Danse. Berith was one of the original founders and runs a communications company and arts theatre cooperative out of De Ceuvel in two of the houseboat offices/studios.

The De Ceuvel site is intended to serve as a blueprint for urban renewal and redevelopment of former industrial sites, brownfields. Decentralized technologies and full recycling of local resources are sought to empower urban areas to be self-sufficient. Metabolic, an action agency for societal transformation, designed the technical and environmental system for the De Ceuvel site called the Cleantech Playground. The Cleantech Playground is both a decentralized cleantech utility and a demonstration and testing site for new technologies that can transform how people produce and consume resources and public services in cities. Throughout the site, solar technologies convert energy from the sun into heat and electricity. Green roofs and water collection systems are designed to collect, purify, and store rainwater for when it’s needed. Sanitation systems extract energy, nutrients, and water from the waste produced for on-site food production. Each houseboat office is fitted with a waterless, composting toilet. A network of sensors provide information on performance and user behavior. The Cleantech Playground includes the following core approaches:

Self-sufficiency: Currently, urban areas import energy and material and export waste. The Cleantech Playground applies the model of ecosystems to human neighborhoods, where a much more distributed model of producing and recycling energy, water, and food make urban neighborhoods more resilient and empowered.

A mix of high-tech and low-tech: The Cleantech Playground uses of high-tech systems like sensors, monitoring devices, solar panels, and high-efficiency electric boilers. Low-tech systems also play an important role, including biological waste processing, water filtration, smart insulation methods, vegetation, and solar tubes that provide more natural light to indoor spaces.

Showcase and Demonstration Ground: The broader public has limited understanding of clean technologies and environmental systems. The Cleantech Playground at De Ceuvel gives visitors a chance to understand how these systems work, how the technologies on the site are interconnected, and how to go about purchasing or building them for other developments.

Experimentation and Testing: De Ceuvel is a site for benchmarking existing technologies and researching new ones. An extensive network of sensors will gather data on energy and material flows, user behavior, and technological performance. Research institutes can partner with the Cleantech Playground to investigate.

(The Cleantech Playground at De Ceuvel is done by Metabolic)

The Ceuvel is part of the Cleantech Playground of Metabolic Lab . The workshops on the Ceuvel in this plan self-sufficient and be used as a testing ground to examine a wide range of clean technologies.

The artists’ studios converted boats are self-sufficient through the good insulation, sustainable heating system and the use of solar water heaters. The offices are equipped with rainwater collection and no-flush toilets. Sensors measure temperature, water quality and water demand. Further experimented with decentralized wastewater treatment with biogas production and material recovery (D-SARR system). Clean technologies such as urban agriculture, decentralized renewable energy, natural water purification and other components for a healthy urban metabolism are combined in this way.

The De Ceuval project was inspired by the Gewoonboot.

The NDSM-shipyard in Amsterdam North since the collapse of the Dutch Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in 1984, has been empty for years.

In 1998, cleared a dozen warehouses and warehouses in Amsterdam or threatened with eviction. Some 1,000 artists, designers, theater and other creative entrepreneurs came to sit without work, including Eva de Klerk.

In 2000 Eva de Klerk won a competition for the Northern District of temporary filling for the eastern part of the NDSM site (84,000 sq.m). She sought the right people around her, wrote the development concept, did a feasibility study, provided the necessary funding and additional funding, and was responsible for the entire process: from the design to the planning application. Under the name North Kinetisch she moved with a group of theater, skateboarders and sustainable entrepreneurs into the giant shipbuilding hall. Kinetic North Foundation was initially “only” a working group, but became the foundation administrator and promoter of special projects, such as City of Art, Skatepark Amsterdam and restaurant Noorderlicht.

In just a few years the NDSM became one of the cultural hotspots of Amsterdam and still is. Meanwhile NDSM has become the largest breeding ground in Europe. The still-evolving art city with creative entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial creativen, the skate park which now belongs to the European summit, new neighbors such as MTV, the many festivals that are organized, such as Over ‘t IJ Festival and Valtifest, not to mention the Pllek restaurants and Northern Lights, making the once abandoned NDSM attractive for young and old.

The geWoonboot meet its own energy, heat and cold, and water purification.

Visiting address: NDSM Square 104, 1,033th WB Amsterdam

Now the De Ceuval project has inspired the Schoonship project. This will be 8,000 new sustainable dwellings in a floating housing eco-development on the same canal nearby.


Sustainable Floating House in Amsterdam


gb with brand


In 2008, Marjan de Blok made ​​a television program about the autarkic geWoonboot a houseboat which itself generates energy and purifies water. She interviewed Pauline Westendorp, who was the administrator of the ordinary boat and a resident of the houseboats group IJsbaanpad In Amsterdam – South.

I was so inspired by this type of housing that I started thinking about how I could make this way of life for me. I discovered that this was what I wanted: The combination of sustainable or even entirely self-sufficient life on the water. I realized at once that much work would be to build a completely autarkic houseboat and wondered if this was useful: for indeed a better environment begins at home, but how durable you are on your own? Something in me said it was still too high and I almost wanted to abandon the plan.

Yet I kept following my filming on the boat just contact Pauline Westendorp.

She told me more about living on the water, sustainability in water and on the policy houseboats in Amsterdam. It was during this conversation that the idea emerged to develop a plan with a collective, are all sustainable in the water. It would be a citizen initiative where the community would agree with. When I wegfietste Pauline I was completely filled with my new mission, just … how would I find a group to join in this adventure.

That same evening I had won the first soul, Thomas Sykora, a good friend, my co – initiator. We decided that if we wanted to build a whole neighborhood, we had to begin to put the plan on an A4 page. We did that and now closed just about everyone we talked about our plan joined us. Pauline provided us with advice in this start-up phase. Through her we came in contact with the ‘Housing Experiments Steering Group’ and we were eligible for a grant. This amount we used to by the Régie we plan on letting out paper work. We founded Foundation Clean Ship and decided to apply for funding to the Province – North Holland. The discharge when we got the message that we were promised the money, I will never forget. That same evening we got together and we drank our first bottle of champagne. While we were busy for about one and a half years, this for us was the official beginning of the realization of Clean Ship. The board then consisted of Thomas, Sjoerd, Marnix, Daphne, Marjoram and Marjan. It was often looking for the right way to work, everyone had his full – time job and we had among all companies continue to run by the foundation. We ran into the fact that citizens living in gebeid is encouraged by the church, but that regulations only little late. Marcel Kastein the Director said in the beginning to me: “Please note that this kind of project will take at least seven years to get off the ground.” I thought, ‘OK, I’m going out of nine. ” The strange thing was not afschrok me, I was just thinking: what is beautiful: a sustainable project, there you must take your time.

The years that followed were interesting and occasionally spicy. It was sometimes difficult to work together sometimes, to get everyone on the same. Six people who try in the evening hours on a voluntary basis to achieve their dream, and they all have their ideas about how something should see to organize a good look. But we were always out, keeping in mind our dream.

Now the Clean Ship board consists of Thomas, Marjoram, William and myself. The group of residents is as good as known. Occasionally there is somebody off, because a house is bought, the family expansion no longer allows to wait relationship breaks or other personal circumstances. But we get almost daily notifications of geintereseerden. The desire to make the transition to a more sustainable life, there is! Both socially and ecologically! ”


With the contribution of the Housing Experiments Steering Group was set in 2008 Clean Ship in its first steps. In collaboration with The Régie is examined Houthavens was a suitable location. That location did not work out.

In 2010, all arrows at Buiksloterham, the ideal location to pioneer and dreams come true.

In 2011, a feasibility study has been launched at this location, made possible through a financial contribution from the Province of Noord Holland. The study was conducted by space and matter and

Phase 1 of this study was to develop generic plans in a feasible plan that meets the needs and goals of the group. During this phase, the participants committed themselves by signing a manifesto, filling out a detailed questionnaire and pay a financial deposit.

In Phase 2, the plans from Phase 1 concrete and adapted to the Johan van Hasselt Canal and the tender requirements.

Metabolic has a separate feasibility study conducted in the area of sustainability: a total solution for both Clean Ship and the neighboring isle Hatchery The Ceuvel .

For both studies, the main requirements that the plans would provide for a sustainable area groundbreaking project that would be affordable for the group entirely feasible one. These conditions have been met.

See my presentation here: DeCeuval060515MA

See also:

Blog 20: Construction and demolition waste recycling in The Netherlands

I made a point of visiting BRBS Recycling – the association of recyclers in The Netherlands, because I had learnt of the excellent CDW recycling in The Netherlands starting with the Circle City project in Rotterdam from Professor Jaquie Cramer at the Wageningen conference.

I had a long discussion with Max and Peter to get a good picture of what was happening in the building sector recycling and Peter gave a presentation that he was actually scheduled to give in the European Quality Association for Recycling conference at Rotterdam the next day. See it here:


Today nearly 100% of demolition waste is recycled in The Netherlands. You can see the techniques they use in this presentation:

Presentatie Grondstoffen de praktijk van de afval- en recyclingsector

Blog 18: EVA Lanxmeer ecovillage

I visited this EVA Lanxmeer ecovillage on May 5 on the way from the Virak ecovillage launch with Annette from Utrecht. It is right next to the train station at Culembourg. In this district of EFTA Lanxmeer in Culemborg, living is combined with work, recreation, drinking water production, schooling, and growing food. A multifunctional neighborhood, where from the beginning high ambitions pursued cultural history, landscape, water, energy, use of materials, mobility and community participation in the development and management of the district.

EVA Lanxmeer has attracted a group of residents who appreciate to use the available space to develop themselves and the environment. EVA Lanxmeer now has 300 households working in the communal garden of their courtyard, in the management of public green, in the sharing of cars, in the generation of renewable energy and the development of urban agriculture. EVA Lanxmeer draws also each year thousands of visitors who find it an inspiring example for plans they want to achieve in their own back yard.

Eva Laxmeer is an “eco-district” of 300 green homes that were built in the period between 1994 and 2009. Its designer was Marleen Kaptein, who was looking for a way to build more sustainable housing in urban areas.

The neighborhood was built on a plot of 24 hectares, formerly a farm where drinking water is extracted. Built near the railway station in Culemborg, Lanxmeer has 300 apartments, 40,000 m2 of office and retail, social information center, an organic farm, a conference center, bars and restaurants and a hotel. It is therefore integrate different urban functions, providing a good balance between social, economic, cultural, educational, recreational and environmental interests.

The project’s ultimate goal to promote sustainable development through an integrated approach to planning. The final program of this consists of six areas, which are twinned to make it a coherent and integrated whole:

  1. Energy: the balance in the use of energy for which the equation is equal to zero are looking for. This is proposed by producing renewable energy and minimize the consumption of fossil fuels. Most houses have solar and photovoltaic panels on their roofs, autoabasteciéndose, besides being built with magnificent insulation to prevent heat loss. In order to track the use of electricity, most of the people involved in a monitoring program.
  2. Water: Integral system of management and treatment of rainwater and wastewater. One separative system that collects rainwater on the roofs and stored in cisterns built. The wastewater from kitchens and bathrooms are reused for the production of biogas.
  3. Materials: It seeks to close the chain of building material cycle.
  4. Land use: appropriate balance between the use of urban land and green areas are looking for. Many areas of transition between public and private occur, creating pleasant environments.
  5. Transportation: the use of private vehicles is limited by encouraging the use of public transport. Proper infrastructure of footpaths and bicycle paths, direct connection to Culemborg through efficient bus and train lines, and limited use of parking spaces, placing them in the outer parts of the district, have made ​​it “a place without cars “.
  6. Food: Organic farming.
  7. Social: The participation of citizens in the design process was very important, various architectural styles, in order to attract social diversity is properly screened. The jobs created in Eva-Lanxmeer save both time and transport users.

8.Integration of different functions: living, work, leisure, education, etc.

I met with Marleen Kaptein at the launch of the proposed ecovillage at Virak on the Rhine River near the town of Tiers in The Netherlands. She is one of the founders of EVA Lanxmeer ecovillage in Culembourg and is also one of the founders of EVA – Ecological Centre for Education, Information and Advice, who developed the concept for the district EFTA Lanxmeer in Culemborg. In 1993, she initiated the creation of a pilot project for integrated and sustainable urban development, focusing on broad groups in society. At present, the foundation is working on the realization of the EVA Centre for integrated ecology and social innovation as part of the district EFTA Lanxmeer. In the late eighties, she worked at TU Delft in working OBOM (Open build development), specializing in community participation. She was for many years director of Foundation for Human & Architecture and the VIBA in ‘s-Hertogenbosch.

Must get this article: WEKA SUSTAINABLE BUILDING, EVA Lanxmeer, Theme: Projects, 18-04-2009, Written by Marleen Kaptein and Drs. Ing. Ger de Vries: Projects should always sustainable. Similarly, the district EFTA Lanxmeer in Culemborg. The area surrounds a water extraction with an old iconic water tower. Old landscape features and ecological qualities are included in the urban plan. A sustainable water and energy management that uses water conservation, rainwater and solar and wind energy, is also part of the district. The quality of the built environment should contribute as much to the welfare of people who live and work there. Altogether no small task. This Article is explained how the founders went to work and what principles they went to achieving sustainable, organic urbanism involved with residents. In this article: The district EFTA Lanxmeer, Scenic qualities terrain EFTA Lanxmeer, Classification outside EFTA Lanxmeer, Urban design EVA Lanxmeer, Energy and installations EFTA Lanxmeer, Water in the design of EVA-Lanxmeer, Management EFTA Lanxmeer.

The EVA Lanxmeer ecovillage at Culembourg is a green-field ecological housing development emphasizing a closed water cycle, although with an overflow to a local watercourse. Changes made to the terrain were excavation of canals and pond. Water dynamics and dimensioning: Large open water areas. Stormwater accentuation: Ecological design as main ‘branding’ element . Wet basin. Swales. Constructed wetland. Trickling water fountain. Groundwater level indicator. Construction and maintenance: Constructed wetland treatment system (ceased). Site history and context: Former farm land. Dutch polder landscape. On the one hand, landscape-based stormwater management systems are easily implemented on naturally sloping terrains and can help accentuate the experience of the surface relief and precipitation dynamics. Simple designs using only a few key stormwater management elements seem to work better than systems with multiple water design features. Further, utilizing the site’s history and integrating stormwater management with other functions seem to result in good and meaningful designs. On the other hand, the accentuation of visible water features at any cost results in illogical and unsettled designs. Stormwater management is often too weak as a sole connecting idea for the design. Generic textbook designs rarely suffice and natural precipitation dynamics make it difficult to size attractive passive water features. In addition, area restrictions may force massive terrain changes. In combination, this eventually leads to over-dimensioned and predominantly dry elements where sediment and waste can accumulate, maintenance needs intensify, and local community support may start to decrease. Suggestions for new approaches towards landscape-based stormwater management include designing open spaces for retention that work best when dry, but are resilient to periodical flooding, or designing smaller elements that are filled with water more often and are linked with different overflow options in order to support the experience of water. (page 62)

Antje Backhaus & Ole Fryd (2013) The aesthetic performance of urban landscape-based stormwater management systems: a review of twenty projects in Northern Europe, Journal of Landscape Architecture, 8:2, 52-63, DOI: 10.1080/18626033.2013.864130

See my presentation here: EvaLanxmeer050515MA

See also:

Blog 17: A day trip to a new ecovillage site at Virak

I arrived in the beautiful town of Utrecht on Saturday and Sunday I commenced the tour of ecovillages in The Netherlands as well as other projects.

Today we travelled to the site of the proposed new ecovillage at Virak where we very lucky to join a planning workshop for this. There were amazing people there including amazingly the founder 22 years ago of the Eva-Lanxmeer ecovillage at Culembourg a lovely woman called Marleen Kaptein.

Today was Liberation Day, May 5, the day when the Nazi General signed the peace deal with an American General at the town of Wageningen, where I was last week for a conference, another beautiful little country town.

It is the 70th anniversary so a very big day.

To celebrate this the workshop I attended today was also a special opening to honour the artist Pieter Kooistra 1922-1998 he died 15 years ago and was the inspiration for new world ideas by the workshop organiser Henry Mentink, an amazing guy.

Henry Mentink an Entrepreneur started fair trade stores—and he introduced car sharing to the Netherlands:

He is a good friend of the woman in who’s house I am staying in Utrecht. His workshop today was also a special opening of a new economic vision with his friend Ervin Laszlo a great world thinker and the founder of the Club of Budapest for new world ideas:ászló

So at this same place Virak on the Rhine River they also plan to build an ecovillage soon: . This is only an early beta test website. Will look better soon I guess.

On the way back to Utrecht we visited the beautiful Eva-Lanxmeer ecovillage – more about that later.

An amazing day for me to get a very well rounded introduction to the history and current vision in The Netherlands!!