Sustainability @VenhoevenCS

Sustainability is in the DNA of VenhoevenCS. Ever since Ton Venhoeven started the company in 1995, sustainability has been an important pillar of our design practice.

When Ton was 17 years old, the Club of Rome published a report called Limits to Growth (1972). It was one of the first publications to predict that economic growth could not continue indefinitely, because of the limited natural resources available. The report had a major impact on Ton’s thinking and his view of the world: it instilled in him a belief that we all carry a responsibility, not only to each other and future human generations, but also to all other beings and objects, both animate and inanimate.

Over the years, our thinking and practice have evolved – and are still evolving, under the influence of trial and error. New developments and insights are emerging thanks to the ideas brought into the office by new team members. Our ever-evolving vision  – by sharing and absorbing knowledge and new ideas – is part of the DNA of VenhoevenCS. Consequently, the ideas, goals and tools described in this document are not eternal and will develop over time. Sustainability@VenhoevenCS will therefore be evaluated and updated regularly.

The aim of Sustainability@VenhoevenCS is to inspire, but more importantly to show how VenhoevenCS thinks about sustainability and where we are coming from.  It consists of basic principles and identifies the greatest environmental challenges that we would like to focus on overcoming.

VenhoevenCS has several other documents for internal use, which translate the principles and focuses mentioned in Sustainability@VenhoevenCS into applications in our practices, operations, and policies. Our Environmental Management Plan states our  SMART goals and describes how we would like to achieve those goals. We monitor our progress continuously through internal and external audits, evaluations, and reviews.

How are we making the future more sustainable?

VenhoevenCS contributes to a more sustainable future through:

  • Our projects, including R&D and validation/valorization projects
  • The interaction with our partners in the built environment (chain responsibility)
  • Our VenhoevenCS Academy
  • Our operations
  • Communication and engagement

Developing, designing, and executing projects is the core business of VenhoevenCS. By ‘projects’ we mean not just designing buildings or master plans, but also research, consultancy, and policy making. We strive to find the right clients that share our ambitions and are not afraid to invest in them. And we always look for ‘best practice’ partners, so we can create the most sustainable projects possible.

More challenging, but equally important, is pushing a ‘normal’ project to its sustainable limits, within the conditions imposed on us, such as financial constraints, reluctant end-users, political or social circumstances, and local business cases. This takes persuasiveness, patience, resilience, and perseverance.

Developing our knowledge is crucial to achieving our sustainability goals. Not only are technological innovations progressing at breakneck speed, but the insights into the complex workings of our planet and their interactions with human activity are also developing all the time. The  VenhoevenCS Academy is a key instrument to disseminating that knowledge within and outside of our office. More on the VenhoevenCS Academy can be found on our website.

VenhoevenCS has the ambition to be a forward-thinking, agenda-setting practice. We give lectures all over the world about sustainable urban planning and future proof regions; we are involved in policymaking; we write books and articles; and we are not afraid to make controversial statements in the media, where necessary.

At VenhoevenCS, we are optimists. We have to be, but it is not always easy. The world we live in faces many fundamental problems and it is understandable to become pessimistic about the future. The good news is that, as a design office, we are part of the solution. Looking forward, imagining a new world, acting on our beliefs, and inspiring others to act can be hard, but it is always very fulfilling.

wetlands, sea level rise, peat regeneration, multiple land use, climate adaptation, saline agriculture

Challenge NL 2070: design research about the landscape of The Netherlands in 2070 by BoschSlabbers and VenhoevenCS (2016)

land use, renewable energy, production landscape

Petaplan (2017): research about how to generate renewable energy responsibly on the land of Prorail and Rijkswaterstaat