My fascination: creating clarity in complexity

I am fascinated by the symphony of our society, weaved together by cities, industries, companies and governments. Since 1999 I’ve been passionately building new ways to approach our ever complex world, benefit from it in the short term and become sustainable, resilient and socially just in the long run. It’s humbling to have been rewarded the position of most influential sustainability professional in the Netherlands several years by the national newspaper Trouw and several magazines. These were rewarded for projects that include the first feasible vertical farms for cities, software for knowledge management, bottom up innovation communities, circular urban redevelopment and autonomous buildings. These projects can be seen here.

Integrated Sustainable Development Framework
To streamline thoughts and teamwork on these issues, I’ve developed the Symbiosis in Development (SiD) framework for integrated sustainable development. This framework implements long term systemic change in around 300 projects in Europe, Asia, North America, and Australia.

Experience from pioneering projects
In 1999 I founded Except Integrated Sustainability, set up to combine science, design and business. Through Except, I’ve been fortunate in supporting pioneering organizations and projects of our time, including IKEA, Amsterdam Schiphol airport, AHOLD, and about two dozen metropolitan city projects in North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. The projects I developed include corporate and urban strategy, area development, food systems, policy, software and knowledge management.

New strategies for a new era
The opportunities before us include aspects such as circular and bio based economies, big data implementation, self learning supply chains, bottom up community development, and resilient project development. Using the power of these new systemic insights, I see a wide open field of opportunity for any ambitious organization in this time of change, for business, governance and industry. I wake up every day hoping to inspire and guide more people towards these insights. It’s not about doing less, it’s about revolutionizing our way of doing, and create exhilarating places, products and ways of doing things. And we can; the proof is out there.


Tom is the founder and director of Except, and the visionary force behind its development. Starting Except at the age of 19 in 1999, he had the ambition to find more effective solutions for pressing societal challenges using systems understanding, innovative design, and multi-disciplinary cooperation. To implement true, fundamental, and long term measures to improve our society. Since then Tom has been increasingly recognized as a leader in sustainability thinking, the circular economy and systemic innovation. In 2014 he was elected number 38 of most influential sustainability  professionals in the Netherlands by  Trouw, and ranked  number 21 on the Dutch Sustainable Real Estate awards.

Tom develops the Symbiosis in Development (SiD) framework to effectively approach complex societal challenges with a clear, multi-disciplinary approach. With SiD Tom leads transdisciplinary teams from Except and partners to develop pioneering solutions that breach the frontier of what’s possible  for organizations, cities, and industries. These include solutions for the circular economy, natural capital, smart urban redevelopment, bio-based economy, and resilience research and development.

As director and designer, Tom has driven Except’s bio-based architectural and urban designs, such as the Merredin Algae plant, Shanghai vertical agriculture tower systems and the urban redevelopment of Schiebroek-Zuid. He spearheads developments ranging from software for supply chain optimization, to sustainable agriculture systems such as Polydome. In addition, Tom is the driving force behind sustainable communities of practice such as the Rotterdam Collective (RoCo, 2010),  a collective for socially engaged entrepreneurs in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. He advises national and regional governments as well as multi national corporations on sustainability strategy.

Tom has worked and lectured in Australia, Canada, China, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy,  and the United States. He teaches as a guest-lecturer in various universities and publishes articles regularly.


2005 – 2008 Architecture & Planning (MArch I) Yale University, New Haven, USA
2000 – 2005 Industrial Design Engineering (Ir/MSc) Delft University of Technology, NL
2001 – 2002 Architecture University of Western Australia, Perth, AUS
1997 – 2000 Industrial Design Engineering (BSc) Delft University of Technology, NL
1997 – 1997 Advanced Mathematics James Boswell Institute, Utrecht, NL

Professional roles

1999 – Founder & Director, Except Integrated Sustainability B.V.
2015 – Founder & Director, Except Integrated Sustainability Foundation
2015 – Founder & Director, Polydome Sustainable Agriculture B.V.
2015 – 2016 Founder & Director, Utrecht Cooperative Foundation (UCo)
2011 – 2014 Founder & Director, Rotterdam Collective (Ro-Co)


2014, elected no 21 on top-50 list of most progressive person in sustainable real estate by Building Sustainable magazine and ABN AMRO bank
2014, elected no 38 on top-100 list of most influential sustainability professionals in the Netherlands by Trouw Newspaper

Selected Projects, Publications, Teaching & Engagements

For a list of all projects, visit Except’s project site.

2016 UNESCO World Heritage Waddenzee Center main concept developer
2015-16 Schiphol Amsterdam Airport, Long term vision and strategy for CBD and business parks
2015 IKEA suply chain strategy, concepts and IT product development, nominated for 2degrees Champions Awards 2015
2015 Detroit, Dutch Agri-Food and Greenhouse Technology Trade Mission, main organizer for Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Dutch Embassy
2015 Sustainable Urban Districts, 2015 Global Review for WWF, co-author
2014 Venice Architecture Biennale, key speaker, Venice, IT
2014 Climate KIC, participant Venture Competition
2014 Founded UCo, community for 150+ entrepreneurs in sustainable development in Utrecht
2013 World Forum on Natural Capital, keynote speaker, Edinburgh UK
2011 Polydome Sustainable Agriculture, Founder and main project developer
2011 Greenprint, Examples of Sustainability in the Built Environment, author
2011 Sustainable Schiebroek-Zuid neighborhood redevelopment plan, Rotterdam, project leader
2011 House of Energy, Guidebook for energy-neutral living, co-author
2011 New Energy, Keynote speaker, Dutch Institute of Architecture (NAi)
2011 Founded Ro-Co, community for 25+ soscially engaged entrepreneurs in Rotterdam, with Richard Boeser
2009 Symbiosis in Design, Smart and Sustainable Built Environments ‘09, TU Delft, 15-6-2009, Keynote Speaker
2009 Integrated Sustainable Design, Sustainable Tuesday, de Zwijger Amsterdam, Keynote Speaker
2008 Floating Autarktic Sustainable Houses, Advisor Hogeschool Rotterdam
2006 San Fransisco Trans Bay Terminal, project leader, lead concept development
2003 Materialworld Exhibit & Workshop, Principal Organizer, Schiedam, NL
2001 Merredin Regional Redevelopment Strategy, Spirulina Alage plant, Western Australia
2001 Symbiosis in Development (SiD), framework for developing multi-faceted sustainability innovations using systems-thinking, network theory, and life cycle understanding
2001 Jacob Jensen Design Seminar, Principal Organizer, Delft, NL
2000 Car Design Seminar 2000, Principal Congress Organizer, Delft, NL