News round-up: highlights of our recent projects

Published on the 27th of October 2016
Schoonschip_News Roundup_Metabolic

A round-up of some of the projects that have been keeping us busy: from circular food systems and community building to procurement and urban design.

A Circular Food System for North East Brabant

The area of North East Brabant has been facing increasing challenges, both environmentally and economically. As the epicenter of Dutch livestock production, specifically pig farming, there is increasing pressure to reduce the global and local impacts of the region’s environmental footprint and respond to growing concerns regarding animal welfare. Here at Metabolic we have been developing a shared vision with the triple-helix organization, AgriFood Capital, for a circular food system to be established the area by 2030. With the combined input of stakeholders representing business, education, and government sectors, we are working to implement a systemic and entrepreneur-driven program to put the circular food system into motion. We will be sharing more details about the project before the end of this year.

Spaarndammertunnel kicks off Circular Procurement

Metabolic worked with Antea Group to assess the circular performance of the Spaarndammertunnel, a tunnel currently being constructed in Amsterdam. Antea has been consulting on the tunnel since its beginning phases in 2007 and sought to learn what could have been done differently to result in better environmental performance through circular procurement.

Metabolic explored where in the process pivotal decisions could have influenced the final outcomes and analyzed the tunnel with a holistic set of performance criteria that we developed based on system thinking and the vision of a circular economy. Using these criteria, we worked out a scenario of interventions and measured the change in performance scores. Looking toward the future, we see quite some potential in further developing a tool where interventions could be combined and optimized, while measuring the performance on a holistic set of criteria. Read our report here. (in Dutch).

Metabolic Foundation Publishes Community FabLab Concept

For the past few years, our Foundation has been working to build capacity within disadvantaged communities around the world. This work has culminated in Community Fab Labs – maker spaces filled with tools and programs that are built within and governed by local communities. Metabolic Foundation is partnering with other FabLabs and organizations focused on open source education to create a globally accessible educational program that guides local communities and social entrepreneurs in establishing their own Community FabLab. Read more about Community FabLabs here.

KJ Plein Den Haag

The square in front of Den Haag Central Station will soon be home to a mixed-use development and a redeveloped square. Metabolic has been involved in shaping the sustainability ambitions of the project, together with the developing consortium consisting of SYNCHROON, Amvest, Powerhouse Company, DELVA Landscape Architects and Skonk.


Spectral is a micro utility and resource technology company. The company was founded as a spin-off of Metabolic with the mission to change the way resources are produced and managed. It aims to provide resource security where it does not yet exist as well as to replace existing systems that are wasteful and environmentally impactful. For the latest from Spectral, see their website. In the meantime, here are two recent updates we’re really excited to share:

  • Schoonschip receives experimental exemption from the RVO.

Schoonschip, a floating residential neighborhood of 47 households located in Amsterdam North, hopes to become the most sustainable urban development in Europe. The project aims to re-envision the way we approach sustainable development, setting a new standard for resource management, sustainable building design, community governance, and closing nutrient cycles. Metabolic developed a holistic sustainability masterplan for the site, which included nine key performance areas, spanning from energy and water to social welfare and governance.

Spectral is currently leading the implementation of an advanced smart-grid at Schoonschip, which is a focal point of a breakthrough R&D project, being conducted in collaboration with CWI (Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica) and Fraunhofer Institute. An essential feature of the project was to create a private microgrid for the Schoonschip community – something which is not permitted under existing regulations. This week, Schoonschip was granted a special experimental status under the “Experimenteerregeling”, which would enable them to proceed with the plans for the microgrid. The project team celebrated after receiving the good news, as this was a critical factor for being able to realize the ambitious goals of the project, and to enable the Schoonschip community to become (mostly) energy self-sufficient.

(See an image of the Schoonschip design at the top of this post.)

Additional Information about the “Experimenteerregeling”:

The Dutch Enterprise Agency (RVO) is part of the Dutch Government’s Ministry of Economic Affairs. Under its ‘Experimenteerregeling’ program, it provides ten permits a year for new energy innovation projects on a local or neighbourhood scale. Within this program, the ‘Projectnet’ permission specifically allows the local community to realize and maintain their own private (smart) micro grid and experiment with new innovation on energy supply, such as with peer-to-peer delivery and developing new tariff structures within the community grid. By implementing the Experimenteerregeling the Government aims to get essential input from the bottom-up energy initiatives that will help adapt regulation in the future.

  • State of the art battery module for TNO

This month Spectral delivered a brand-new state of the art battery module to the independent research institute TNO. The battery module was custom built by Spectral and will be integral to the work that will be conducted at TNO’s new high-tech Energy System Integration Testing Facility (HESI). Here they will research the interactions of various energy systems, including power, gas and heat, to configure the best ways to transition our energy infrastructure to one which is fully sustainable.

Working closely with TNO, Spectral designed and built a battery module using the best of today’s battery technology. When connected to the grid the module can peak shave power, reducing power output from the grid when it is at its highest demand, and can also assist in powering high demand loads by adding as much as 5kW of continuous power to the grid connection. Furthermore, the module can be used off grid to help act out different smart grid scenarios. The module itself is contained within a solid steel frame and sits on wheels, making it both robust and mobile to suit its function within a laboratory.

Spectral will be attending the opening of the HESI laboratory in January to showcase our important work within this project. It will also be an opportunity to see the crucial work being done by TNO to help develop the energy systems of our future – it will be exciting to see the results.

We’ll soon be sending out a regular newsletter with the latest news and views from Metabolic. Make sure you sign up to receive it here.

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