The Dutch Mountains. Image by Studio Marco Vermeulen.

Climate Cleanup Sprint Diaries: Sprint 0 — Ecosystem

Exploring the bio-based building ecosystem

Tijn Tjoelker
Climate Cleanup
Published in
4 min readApr 10, 2021


We’ve created a decision making tool to easily compare the impact of building materials on CO2 and nitrogen emissions, carbon storage, biodiversity, wellbeing and the weight of the house. This tool shows that bio-based materials can transform buildings into carbon sinks. In this Sprint Diaries Series we share how we did it.

The building material impact assessment tool we developed.

The goal of Sprint 0

The goal of Sprint 0 was to familiarize the Sprint team with the bio-based building ecosystem, which is essential for the development of the calculation tool.

Sprint 0 Ecosystem diagram. By Andy Dockett.

Defining the LifeLab

First, we defined what will constitute the Oncra Life Lab. This is the staging area for the development and demonstration of Oncra integrations. It is a space organized around unstructured nodes, where we bring together ideas, research, data and people to advance solutions to the climate crisis. The Bio-based Building Node will be used to create an open source and light-weight, yet holistic and comprehensive methodology for building material assessments. In practical terms it will be where we report back on the progress of each individual sprint so that each project partner has a concise way of communicating its status and progress. After each sprint the materials can be compiled and used as the basis of a promotional email sent to all stakeholders and interested parties.


Stakeholder mapping of the building industry

Besides effective documentation, reporting and communication, we’ve explored the bio-based building space with a stakeholder mapping exercise, to get a visual representation of all the people who can influence your project and how they are connected. We’ve made the distinction between sprint partners, knowledge partners, case partners and end users.

Desk research on building assessment frameworks

For ease of use, we’ll make three different standard houses: 1.1 bio-based house, 1.2 hybrid house and 1.3 baseline standard house. We’ve compiled a list of building assessment frameworks to create an overview of calculation models and frameworks with their pros and cons. Amongst others, we’ve analysed how the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) can be used for the calculation tool. Furthermore, we’ve looked in some more detail to the available life cycle assessment (LCA) data regarding bio-based building materials, e.g. hempcrete, cross-laminated timber (CLT) and straw.

The house design. By Andy Dockett.

Incorporating the Sustainable Development Goals

The SDGs can serve as an invaluable tool in the communication of the issues related to progressing the goal of achieving a sustainable planet. It has become increasingly common for public institutions and corporations to attempt to use the SDG framework as some kind of impact assessment tool. That’s why we’ve outlined some of the attempts made by the construction and housing industries. We propose the creation of Voluntary Indicators to be used within the SDG framework to provide a more meaningful analysis of the decisions being made around bio-based building materials. Those indicators can better address local and hyperlocal issues, such as nitrogen loading or land use issues. These are to be developed during the first sprint of the LifeLab.

Incorporating the Sustainable Development Goals into the tool. By Andy Dockett.

Manifesto: A level playing field for a more sustainable Netherlands

We signed the Dutch manifesto: A level playing field for a more sustainable Netherlands. The calculation methods used to determine the environmental impact of building materials do not limit CO2 emissions during the production of building materials. Together with other major parties from the construction industry, we call on politicians and policymakers to ensure that, beyond the interests of the construction industry, calculation methods strongly promote the use of highly emission-friendly materials. CO2 storage should be included into the MPG calculation.

Join us and sign the manifesto!



Tijn Tjoelker
Climate Cleanup

A human mycelium network — weaving webs of synergy to catalyse regenerative transformation.