Empowering Community: Innovating Through Sustainability Projects for a Brighter Future – An Expert’s View

We recently spoke to Tom Bosschaert, founder and director of Except Integrated Sustainability (EIS). The company is a consultancy specializing in helping organizations innovate towards a brighter future by answering the question: how can we be more sustainable? Specifically, they train business staff to foster new perspectives on how they engage with sustainability, circularity, regenerative processes, and the like. This helps EIS build a roadmap which charts an organization’s pathway to assuming a better market position while having a greater positive impact on the world. The following post will look into Bosschaert’s background, how EIS has benefited the world so far, and how they continue to do so with sustainability projects in Vietnam.

The start of EIS came at the end of the 90’s, back when Bosschaert was a university student studying architecture, urban planning, and engineering. During his studies, he became inspired by the idea that through innovation, it’s possible to address some of society’s greatest problems. The challenges we face in areas like food, water, waste management, energy, resource scarcity, and the like could be fixed by taking a more sustainable approach to business, thereby improving the lives of many. However, when he started looking for companies to build a career in, he found there weren’t many options. For the 19 year old Bosschaert, that was all the reason he needed to go and start one himself. 

Fast forward about 25 years and the growth of EIS has paralleled Bosschaert’s personal development. The team now works globally in five continents, with a focus on Southeast Asia over the last four years. The area, and Vietnam specifically, is now one of their most important markets, something Bosschaert enjoys as it gives him a new opportunity to learn, something he believes is key to continued innovation. In the following sections, we’ll detail how EIS has helped in the push for a more globalized sustainable community and how they plan on instigating those same changes in Vietnam. 

A Few Key Stats About Except Integrated Sustainability

  • Completed over 700 projects worldwide, across 5 different continents.

  • Valued at $9 million as a small organization in 2022. 

  • As a whole, EIS operates as a small, dedicated team of about 20 people

  • Some notable clients: IKEA, Salesforce, Heineken

Notable Sustainability Projects

1. Sustainable Sushi

Despite the fact that EIS now works with some of the biggest brands in the world, that’s not to say every one of their clients are household names. One of their most notable sustainability projects was with a family-owned sushi business in the United States who had a mission to become the most sustainable sushi restaurant in the world. 

Prey was a pop-up in the 1 Hotel South Beach in Miami. Mr. Lai, the chef, worked alongside the team at EIS to develop his idea of creating a sustainable menu that cultivates and uses invasive species normally underused at seafood restaurants. The mission basically launched that movement in the food industry, with The New York Times, Washington Post, and numerous TV stations hailing Prey for merging the F&B industry with a sustainability driven approach. 

2. The World’s Largest Ecosystem Park

On the other end of the spectrum, sustainability projects like EIS’s work with San Francisco Salesforce Park are one of their more major ventures. The project focused on the redesign of an existing bus terminal into an ecological park standing 70 feet above the Bay Area’s Grand Hall. The space is considered the world’s largest ecosystem park, and serves as a home to 600 trees and 16,000 plants arranged in 13 different botanical feature areas. The project cost $2.8 billion in construction as a profitable ecosystem project right in the heart of one of the most valuable cities in the world.

3. Making Big Business Sustainable

Aside from sustainability projects like their work with Prey and Salesforce Park, EIS has also played a key role in helping develop a sustainability driven culture in global brands like IKEA and Heineken. 

Their work for IKEA began over a decade ago, with an aim to convert the company’s harmful material cycles and supply chains into engines of positive change. As for Heineken, Bosschaert has been working to make their entire supply chain circular. These projects turn over about $1 million to $1.5 million per project, and are great sources of challenge and inspiration for the team at EIS. 

Building A Sustainable Community In Vietnam

1. Bridging the Knowledge Gap On Vietnam’s Environmental Issues

15 years ago, EIS founded their first sustainable community in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. After its success, a second, much larger community was started in Utrecht, and the combination of the two have since allowed for the collaboration of 180 sustainability professionals. Today, they work together and solve challenges that have anything to do with sustainability, from water, waste, energy, recycling, marketing, and legal issues.

RELATED: How a Fashion Show is Making Waves With Youth Empowerment Through Sustainable Fashion

Though the Netherlands benefits from this abundance of professionals sharing their expertise with one another, ever since Bosschaert made Vietnam a focus for sustainability projects four years ago, he realized how large the knowledge gap is in the country. Information is scattered. While organizations offering sustainability services exist, there’s little integration between experts. To Bosschaert, the real benefits of sustainability only come when everything is integrated, hence the name Except Integrated Sustainability and why he believes there’s a need to bridge this gap in Vietnam.

2. Making Vietnam A Sustainable Space With ViCo

EIS’s latest project is ViCo, a Dutch/Vietnamese collaboration that plans on building South East Asia’s first knowledge and community center for sustainability. With an aim of gathering over 300 international experts, the center will serve as a problem-solving hub for matters concerning how to make the region more climate adaptive, healthy, and socially just. However, taking a couple steps back, why did EIS even decide on Vietnam as a destination to build a sustainability community? 

A major turning point for Bosschaert was his introduction to Chi Nguyen, a native of the country adamant to help out and with an argument that was impossible to ignore. According to her, Vietnam was an obvious choice for the construction of a knowledge center for several reasons.

  • Numerous factories are being moved out of China and into Vietnam.

  • Many industrial parks are being developed in Vietnam.

  • New housing and retail projects are being built that create a foundation for an industrial supply chain that will impact the world at large.

  • Vietnam is relatively young but with a highly educated and dedicated workforce that wants to see its home prosper.  

Made aware of these factors, Bosschaert started ViCo, with Nguyen serving as the country director for the project. With plans of eventually expanding towards Hanoi and Da Nang, these branches can then be connected with EIS’s centers in Tokyo and Singapore, thus creating an international supply chain of sustainable communities. So far, 20 companies have signed up to be a part of the group. Furthermore, through a nation-wide crowdfunding effort, EIS wants ViCo not just to be made for the community, but also by the community. Essentially, this means that anyone who invests can receive up to 16% of the financial profits the center makes. While the $4.3 million needed to build the center is a considerable sum of money, Bosschaert believes now is the time it needs to be done. The fact is, even though Vietnam is emerging on the global scene, its environment seems to be getting sacrificed for its economy. The country has lost 80 percent of its forests in the last couple of decades, and while it’s made improvements in water quality and water management, in the next 20 or 30 years Vietnam is going to be confronted by climate change in ways that are frightening to conceive of. The question is no longer about saving the environment for the coming generations–It needs to be saved for the sake of our own. 

Invest in ViCo: https://except.eco/about/news/excepts-news/vico-friends-family-funding-round/

Subscribe to the Voice of Sustainability

Get monthly newsletter with impact stories from around the World and news from SUSTAINOVA.

Subscribe to the Voice of Sustainability

Get monthly newsletter with impact stories from around the World and news from SUSTAINOVA.

Empowering Community: Innovating Through Sustainability Projects for a Brighter Future – An Expert’s View

We recently spoke to Tom Bosschaert, founder and director of Except Integrated Sustainability (EIS). The company is a consultancy specializing in helping organizations innovate towards a brighter future by answering the question: how can we be more sustainable? Specifically, they train business staff to foster new perspectives on how they engage with sustainability, circularity, regenerative processes, and the like. This helps EIS build a roadmap which charts an organization’s pathway to assuming a better market position while having a greater positive impact on the world. The following post will look into Bosschaert’s background, how EIS has benefited the world so far, and how they continue to do so with sustainability projects in Vietnam.

The start of EIS came at the end of the 90’s, back when Bosschaert was a university student studying architecture, urban planning, and engineering. During his studies, he became inspired by the idea that through innovation, it’s possible to address some of society’s greatest problems. The challenges we face in areas like food, water, waste management, energy, resource scarcity, and the like could be fixed by taking a more sustainable approach to business, thereby improving the lives of many. However, when he started looking for companies to build a career in, he found there weren’t many options. For the 19 year old Bosschaert, that was all the reason he needed to go and start one himself. 

Fast forward about 25 years and the growth of EIS has paralleled Bosschaert’s personal development. The team now works globally in five continents, with a focus on Southeast Asia over the last four years. The area, and Vietnam specifically, is now one of their most important markets, something Bosschaert enjoys as it gives him a new opportunity to learn, something he believes is key to continued innovation. In the following sections, we’ll detail how EIS has helped in the push for a more globalized sustainable community and how they plan on instigating those same changes in Vietnam. 

A Few Key Stats About Except Integrated Sustainability

  • Completed over 700 projects worldwide, across 5 different continents.

  • Valued at $9 million as a small organization in 2022. 

  • As a whole, EIS operates as a small, dedicated team of about 20 people

  • Some notable clients: IKEA, Salesforce, Heineken

Notable Sustainability Projects

1. Sustainable Sushi

Despite the fact that EIS now works with some of the biggest brands in the world, that’s not to say every one of their clients are household names. One of their most notable sustainability projects was with a family-owned sushi business in the United States who had a mission to become the most sustainable sushi restaurant in the world. 

Prey was a pop-up in the 1 Hotel South Beach in Miami. Mr. Lai, the chef, worked alongside the team at EIS to develop his idea of creating a sustainable menu that cultivates and uses invasive species normally underused at seafood restaurants. The mission basically launched that movement in the food industry, with The New York Times, Washington Post, and numerous TV stations hailing Prey for merging the F&B industry with a sustainability driven approach. 

2. The World’s Largest Ecosystem Park

On the other end of the spectrum, sustainability projects like EIS’s work with San Francisco Salesforce Park are one of their more major ventures. The project focused on the redesign of an existing bus terminal into an ecological park standing 70 feet above the Bay Area’s Grand Hall. The space is considered the world’s largest ecosystem park, and serves as a home to 600 trees and 16,000 plants arranged in 13 different botanical feature areas. The project cost $2.8 billion in construction as a profitable ecosystem project right in the heart of one of the most valuable cities in the world.

3. Making Big Business Sustainable

Aside from sustainability projects like their work with Prey and Salesforce Park, EIS has also played a key role in helping develop a sustainability driven culture in global brands like IKEA and Heineken. 

Their work for IKEA began over a decade ago, with an aim to convert the company’s harmful material cycles and supply chains into engines of positive change. As for Heineken, Bosschaert has been working to make their entire supply chain circular. These projects turn over about $1 million to $1.5 million per project, and are great sources of challenge and inspiration for the team at EIS. 

Building A Sustainable Community In Vietnam

1. Bridging the Knowledge Gap On Vietnam’s Environmental Issues

15 years ago, EIS founded their first sustainable community in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. After its success, a second, much larger community was started in Utrecht, and the combination of the two have since allowed for the collaboration of 180 sustainability professionals. Today, they work together and solve challenges that have anything to do with sustainability, from water, waste, energy, recycling, marketing, and legal issues.

RELATED: How a Fashion Show is Making Waves With Youth Empowerment Through Sustainable Fashion

Though the Netherlands benefits from this abundance of professionals sharing their expertise with one another, ever since Bosschaert made Vietnam a focus for sustainability projects four years ago, he realized how large the knowledge gap is in the country. Information is scattered. While organizations offering sustainability services exist, there’s little integration between experts. To Bosschaert, the real benefits of sustainability only come when everything is integrated, hence the name Except Integrated Sustainability and why he believes there’s a need to bridge this gap in Vietnam.

2. Making Vietnam A Sustainable Space With ViCo

EIS’s latest project is ViCo, a Dutch/Vietnamese collaboration that plans on building South East Asia’s first knowledge and community center for sustainability. With an aim of gathering over 300 international experts, the center will serve as a problem-solving hub for matters concerning how to make the region more climate adaptive, healthy, and socially just. However, taking a couple steps back, why did EIS even decide on Vietnam as a destination to build a sustainability community? 

A major turning point for Bosschaert was his introduction to Chi Nguyen, a native of the country adamant to help out and with an argument that was impossible to ignore. According to her, Vietnam was an obvious choice for the construction of a knowledge center for several reasons.

  • Numerous factories are being moved out of China and into Vietnam.

  • Many industrial parks are being developed in Vietnam.

  • New housing and retail projects are being built that create a foundation for an industrial supply chain that will impact the world at large.

  • Vietnam is relatively young but with a highly educated and dedicated workforce that wants to see its home prosper.  

Made aware of these factors, Bosschaert started ViCo, with Nguyen serving as the country director for the project. With plans of eventually expanding towards Hanoi and Da Nang, these branches can then be connected with EIS’s centers in Tokyo and Singapore, thus creating an international supply chain of sustainable communities. So far, 20 companies have signed up to be a part of the group. Furthermore, through a nation-wide crowdfunding effort, EIS wants ViCo not just to be made for the community, but also by the community. Essentially, this means that anyone who invests can receive up to 16% of the financial profits the center makes. While the $4.3 million needed to build the center is a considerable sum of money, Bosschaert believes now is the time it needs to be done. The fact is, even though Vietnam is emerging on the global scene, its environment seems to be getting sacrificed for its economy. The country has lost 80 percent of its forests in the last couple of decades, and while it’s made improvements in water quality and water management, in the next 20 or 30 years Vietnam is going to be confronted by climate change in ways that are frightening to conceive of. The question is no longer about saving the environment for the coming generations–It needs to be saved for the sake of our own. 

Invest in ViCo: https://except.eco/about/news/excepts-news/vico-friends-family-funding-round/

Subscribe to the Voice of Sustainability

Get monthly newsletter with impact stories from around the World and news from SUSTAINOVA.