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Working towards Sustainable Construction

Noorderwind’s Periodic Table of Transition

Somebody once asked me if I used to be a constructor in my previous life. I laughed in his face but actually thought: he might be right! In my spare time I renovate my own house and the houses of my friends, I reused all the wood of my terrace that needed to be replaced and turned it into benches and flower trays and turned old furniture pieces of our family home into bed frames and other accessories. Not bad for a girl that does NOT make a living from construction.

So you can imagine that I really liked one of the latest additions to our Periodic Table of Transition: Sustainable Construction.

Working towards 0 effect of the construction industry

In 2017 the construction industry was responsible for 36% of the world’s energy use and for 39% of energy related CO2 emissions. The instrustry is also responsible for almost 50% of landfill waste and plays a big role in drinking water pollution and air pollution. No wonder we want to change this industry and turn it into an industry that can contribute to a better tomorrow.

That is why we want to focus on Sustainable Construction.

What do we mean with Sustainable Construction? Well, it’s all about:

  • redefining waste into valuable raw materials
  • shifting the focus from scarce resources to renewable resources
  • discovering ways to creating energy producing infrastructures

that could all turn the current polluting elements of these industries to net-positive impact.

Our open innovation initiatives

As you know we run open innovations initiatives in different shapes and forms, depending on the request of our partners and clients. Within Sustainable Construction we have worked within open innovation challenges, as coaches but also in design sprints and during workshops/hackathons.

I have already mentioned how we tackle this issue with our 5 day REsprint concept in one of my previous blogs, turning waste into raw materials for new product. I have also elaborated on the mission of Waterweg turning dredge into bricks. Last week Waterweg opened their ‘street’ at the Waterstraat in Delft. This was part of their pilot with the Water Autority of Delfland and they will now monitor the strength and durability of the bricks.

Our latest partnership with Room for Concepts focuses on participation and co-creation sessions involving the CityGard. CityGard is an urban garden made out of recycled plastics that fits on top of underground containers. It gives plastic waste a purpose in the cities infrastructure, it greens the city and prevents the neighbors from littering the streets. We noticed that many municipalities want to involve their citizens in the process of acquiring CityGards. They want to stimulate their citizens in the waste collection for the creation of the CityGards, but also see a role for them in the maintenance of the CityGards. That is why we created a set of sessions for municipalities and its citizens to create an action plan for the streets that ‘own’ CityGards.

I have mentioned before the open innovation challenges which involved 3 teams competing to develop 2 circular bridges for the horticultural exhibition Floriade 2022. In line with its theme Growing Green Cities the municipality of Almere and the province of Flevoland wanted these 2 bridges to be sustainable and circular. That is why in this challenge we guided the teams of constructors and circular experts to develop bridges that meet these criteria. Through design thinking and validation workshops we took them through the steps to create circular bridges and the winning team developed two bridges that will be constructed of 100% local waste, taken from demolition sites in the surrounding areas.

From bridges we moved to highways this October during our co-creation session in the Growing Pavilion at the Dutch Design Week. Together with Company New Heroes and Biobased Delta, the participants co-created ideas on how to make the InnovA58 highway sustainable.

And we are taking our mission for Sustainable Construction abroad. Next week we will travel to the city of Kumasi, Ghana together with VNG International. There we will facilitate a design sprint that focuses on the mission of the municipality: to give a sustainable purpose to a circular building they constructed. Their goal is to create a place in which solutions can be found for the waste streams of the city such as plastic and metals. How might these materials be reused in the cities infrastructure? We will keep you updated on our progress in the next couple of weeks!

Let’s stop talking and start building

Apparently in my previous life I already started my mission of sustainable construction. And I am still continuing it, both personally and professionally with Noorderwind. All of us at the office have already rolled up our sleeves and started building the infrastructure that will bring us towards a eco-positive construction industry. How about you?

Are you thinking of building an innovation in the field of Sustainable Construction innovation? Feel free to contact us to see how we can start it together!




Wij geloven dat veel van de oplossingen die ons zouden kunnen helpen de wereld een stuk duurzamer te maken al lang bedacht zijn, maar dat deze ideeën (en de initiatiefnemers die hierachter zitten) wat extra hulp kunnen gebruiken om van hun idee impact-volle businesscases te maken

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Sanne Mylonas

Sanne Mylonas

Impact entrepreneur & green business case innovator

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