Rabo Carbon Bank

A bank where the currency is not about money, but about the storage of carbon. This is the initiative of the Rabo Carbon Bank and is an example of a new value system. They develop projects in collaboration with farmers. CO2 can be stored in nature, trees and soil. The bank then mediates between these parties that store the CO2 and companies that want to reduce their CO2 emissions.
Using scientific methods, they determine the impact of changes and provide carbon credits. They monitor the agreements to ensure that the estimated impact is realised.

Carbon agriculture

Regenerative agriculture is agriculture with a positive effect on soil quality. There are natural processed used, consistently this positively to the fertility of the soil, which is the ability to absorb2. Rabobank sees a revenue model in Carbon Credits as a fundamental step to take regenerative agriculture to a larger scale. The branch for 1 carbon credit depends on several factors, but is fixed at around €30 per credit.

With the Rabo Carbon Bank, Rabobank wants to make the transition to sustainability in the regenerative agricultural landscape.

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Cattail cultivation for construction

The Better Wetter project aims for a healthier and more sustainable water system in the peat meadow area in Northeast Friesland. They have various projects and various test fields on which they are experimenting with growing cattail. This wet cultivation could be a new part of the revenue model for farmers in wet areas.

Cattail as insulation

Construction group Dijkstra Draisma, among others, is involved in the use of cattail in construction. Coen Verboom of Dijkstra Draisma calculated that from one hectare of cattails, about twenty to forty homes can be provided with insulation material. They recently bought 10 hectares of peat area to be able to use it for processing into insulation material.

Preventing subsidence

Current water management in agricultural areas is mainly aimed at keeping water levels low. However, climate change will only make the soil wetter. The subsidence in peat lands and the depletion of raw materials by current agriculture mean that this method of soil management is not future-proof. To this end, new forms of water management are being investigated in the Better Wetter program.

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Sustainable homes have both a mental and a physical positive effect on people. Sustainable materials are healthy materials. A Natureplus® label is an eco-label for sustainable and healthy building products. These products are tested for their health aspects, effects on the climate, depletion of raw materials, environment and social conditions. This independent assessment makes Natureplus® the most complete international quality mark for sustainable construction and the label has already been awarded to more than 600 construction products in Europe. It is the only environmental label for construction products based on strict scientific criteria. Natureplus® is based on three pillars: climate protection, healthy living and sustainability.


  • Share of renewable and/or mineral raw materials must be at least 85% of the material content.
  • Used raw materials must be sufficiently available on earth in the long term.
  • There is a ban on substances that are harmful to the environment and health.
  • Emissions during production and use must be very low.
  • Energy consumption in the production of the material is limited.
  • Packaging is ecologically optimized.
  • Processing instructions must be clear.

These criteria have been written out in detail and can be found here on the Natureplus® website.


On this Natureplus® website you will find all the different building materials that they have certified.


The Agrodome Foundation is the Dutch representative of the European Natureplus®. Natureplus works with building materials manufacturers, planners, architects, organizations and institutions in the field of environmental and consumer protection. Their working area is spread all over Europe and has permanent representatives.


Farmers grow for construction

Building with raw materials that come from the farmer offers many possibilities for farmers and builders. Fiber crops such as hemp, miscanthus, flax or cattails can be used well in building materials. These biobased building materials can become a source of income for farmers and at the same time CO2 is stored in the building material for years. Nevertheless, the chain for biobased construction is still in its infancy.

In this article from Nieuwe Oogst, Jan Rotmans and Jan-Willem van de Groep talk about the possibilities and the transition to growing biobased building materials.

About Gideon:

Gideon is a movement with self-managing tribes, which consist of different people, companies and initiatives. They work together to realize ideas and changes in sustainability in the construction sector.

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The 2 little pigs were ahead of their time

photo: Rogier Fokke fotografie

In the famous fairy tale of the 3 little pigs and the bad wolf, 2 of the 3 little pigs hadn’t seen it this bad before. The first pig built a house of straw and the second pig one of wood. They knew something the third pig did not know. Namely, a house made of natural materials is better for health and living pleasure.
strito studio continues these thoughts. They offer 4 studios made of natural building materials that together form a modular home. Healthier and better.

Polluted air in Jakarta as motivation

Founder Willem Fokke lived and worked in Jakarta, Indonesia. The air pollution there is enormous. Every day a gray blanket of polluted air hangs over the city. This is not good for humans mentally as well as physically.

The built environment itself has caused this. Instead of complaining, Willem decided to be part of the solution. This resulted in strito studio, a new housing concept as a step towards a healthier living environment.

strito studio

Healthy materials

The focus of the concept is the use of regrowing, natural materials and modularity. In contrast to the way of building of the third pig (with stone), natural materials are much less harmful. These materials are better for the health of the resident and for the environment.
In the strito concept, the materials are at least 80% natural and regrowable. They have multiple choices* for each building component. The most remarkable material is the bamboo skeleton. Constructively, the use is still unknown, but it is promising. At the moment, strito is researching how this can be further developed.

Modular living

The second important aspect is modularity. Strito has 4 different modules, each with its own function. From 2 modules you already have a fully-fledged home. Will more or less space be needed at a later time? Then a module can easily be added or removed.
Willem Fokke says: ‘At the moment, wooden houses are often only made for the higher income classes. We need to make sure that solutions to climate change are not just for the rich. In this way we avoid greater inequality.”

design: rotative studio

With strito the resident only pays for her needs. This concept is ideal for housing corporations. In this way they can offer a large group of households a suitable home and more people have access to a healthy home.
The 3 little pigs hadn’t thought of that yet. They could also have built a healthy and sturdy home together and have more time to enjoy life.

More information and contact

* Are you working on the development of, or do you have a natural building material? Get in contact with strito. They like to apply new materials in building their new houses. mail@strito.dev

A measurable sustainable living environment

NL Greenlabel stands for a measurable sustainable living environment. They do this by means of various sustainability passports. The labels provide insight into the sustainability score of products, panels and materials that are used in infrastructure projects and green management at a glance. These are independently assessed on the basis of their value for people and nature and ensure that sustainability is made transparent.

The NL Green label provides individuals, companies and governments with quick, transparent and substantiated concrete starting points for realizing sustainability ambitions.

What NL Greenlabel pursues:

  • Preserving and enhancing the quality of the existing environment
  • Co-creation, citizen participation and ownership
  • Green as added value, not as decoration
  • Man and nature in balance
  • A green and healthy living environment
  • Building a guest in the landscape
  • People, Planet, Profit & Prosperity

-Nico Wissing and Lodewijk Hoekstra are the founders of NL Greenlabel. 
-Nico Wissing is the designer of the gardens of The Exploded View Beyond Building and The Growing Pavilion.

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The Indoor Generation

We spend 90% of our time indoors without enough daylight or fresh air. We don’t think about it any more – but science has shown that this can be harmful to our health and wellbeing. See the disturbing truth about your indoor life here: https://www.velux.com/indoorgeneration 

VALUE Magazine

We live in a world dominated by numbers. We express value in terms of money. And we are increasingly leaving more to the “free market”: care and welfare, education, art and culture. But from all directions we hear increasingly loud and clear that this system that strives for infinite growth is no longer maintainable. Even the World Economic Forum claims we need a Great Reset. In the one-off VALUE Magazine, you follow the search of three millennials – Melodie Michel, Girma Segaar and Amber Bloos – for what a new economy could look like. Which values ​​are central to this new economy? How do we get there? Who has already started? And what can we do ourselves?

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The biobased home consists not only of biobased and natural materials but also living plants that play an active role in regulating temperature, supporting biodiversity and cleaning the surrounding air, water and land. Plants that grow in our backyard and clean our soil can eventually be used as building material within our homes.

The area surrounding our home has a significant impact on our health and wellbeing. When we think of neighborhoods we usually think of human-made structures and areas where humans live and gather. However, neighborhoods also include the earth beneath us, the air around us and of course all the life buzzing around us, that is, our non-human kin: plants, birds, insects, and other animals that share the same land with us. 

Industrial activities such as chemical and fossil fuel processing along with agricultural effluents coming from excessive fertilizer and pesticide use are among the leading causes of soil pollution. As of 2014, there were approximately 250,000 sites in the Netherlands showing various degrees of soil pollution. Of these,  1,518 sites were seriously polluted. 

Using plants and soil microbiota (bacteria and fungi in the soil) to clean contaminated soil and groundwater on-site is called phytoremediation. There are various techniques where contaminants are either locked into roots or degraded into simpler non-toxic molecules. Once these plants have absorbed these contaminants, the question arises “What do we do with these plants?” This is something still being investigated by scientists. In the meantime, some of these plants could be used as construction material in a biobased home. 

There are some examples of where you can find phytoremediation in action. On a visit to Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam, you can see how Willow trees have been used to clean up an industrial site where the soil and groundwater was polluted from a former coal and gas factory that was operational from 1885 to early 1990s. 

Another great example of phytoremediation in action is the former shipyard and waste incineration site, now known as De Ceuvel. Since 2012, regeneration of the site has begun. 


PhytoSync is an open-source platform that brings together researchers and designers for the application of phytoremediation in urban environments. Phytoremediative plants have the potential to cleanse the soil, air and water of harmful substances in a natural way.

PhytoSync is an initiative of the Scape Foundation and is being developed in collaboration with Wageningen University & Research. At the moment there is no international dataset of plant species with such properties. Knowledge is very fragmented. The Scape Foundation is working with Wageningen University & Research, among others, on PhytoSync; an open-source platform that includes a database that is accessible in a visual way. PhytoSync will be launched as a platform in 2022.

This platform aims to bring together researchers, designers and developers to drive the application of phytoremediation in urban environments. A good example is De Ceuvel in Amsterdam, also one of the collaborating partners in the research. A phytoremediative plant selection can also be seen in the Red Garden of the Exploded View: Beyond Building.

The soil in the Netherlands is seriously polluted in approximately 250,000 places.

Phytoremediative plants

Phytoremediative plants, also called hyperaccumulators, absorb pollution through their roots. These substances, such as metals and chemicals, are then broken down or incorporated into the plant’s biobiomass. The biomass of the plants thus offers the potential to fix contamination in building materials. Valuable raw materials could also be extracted from the biomass via ‘phyto mining’ principles. This will be further investigated in the course of 2021 in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam.

Phytoremediation is a technology that uses plant species to purify the environment of pollutants. For example, plants are used to remediate soil contaminated with heavy metals by industry. The technology is considered non-invasive and cost effective compared to other methods of cleaning the environment. This offers a natural alternative to ecologically burdensome methods of remediation, such as excavations.

The pollution in the soil is often invisible to the eye, but it does have a huge impact on our lives, from a social, ecological and economic point of view. The impact on our health varies from children playing outside who come into contact with chemicals, to the absorption of heavy metals in the food grown in the urban environment, to the airborne substances that everyone inhales. From an ecological point of view, there is a direct link between this pollution and the biodiversity in the city.

Economic growth is also hampered by soil pollution. A concrete example can be found in the construction sector. Contaminated soils sometimes lie fallow for years because they cannot be developed. As a result, for example, municipalities and port companies lose income, while project developers and housing corporations are unable to meet the increasing demand for commercial and social real estate.

Regional Building Method

Bouwtuin is committed to radically improving the sustainability of the (self) construction chain and (re)developing affordable circular building methods and products that enable a hybrid application of natural materials in architecture. The natural materials are processed into demountable (prefab) building elements, such as facades and roofs. In this way, the raw materials can return to the landscape from which they came and form food for the accretion of a new generation of materials.

Made from

The raw materials can be divided into three basic categories:

  • Soil
  • Wood
  • Fiber

Natural residual flows from the region are used for this, which are released during agricultural activities (including sand, clay, straw) or during nature management (including wood, twigs, reed), but cultivated construction crops (including hemp, flax) are also used.

Bouwtuin also uses biobased connecting materials, such as wooden dowels and flax rope, but does not shy away from the use of reusable technical connecting materials.



Reed is a typical Dutch building material, it grows well in water-rich environments. Today, however, about 70% of all thatched roofs in the Netherlands are covered with Chinese thatch. The reed is of good quality and is about €10 cheaper per m2 of roof. Since reed cutting is a labour-intensive process, it is difficult for Dutch reed cutters to compete with Chinese reed (source: thatcher René Aasman).


In the Netherlands, earthmoving for, among other things, nature development and construction projects, releases an estimated 40 to 45 million tons of clean and slightly contaminated soil and dredging sludge each year, which in accordance with legislation and regulations can be directly reused and used as raw material for various forms of earth construction (report point Soil Quality-Bbk Decree)


Only 10% of a tree is used as quality wood for construction. A large part of the wood is used for a lower value, for example as raw material for the paper or match industry.

Production Process

Bouwtuin uses a low-tech construction method, in which we assemble raw materials in their purest possible form within prefab building elements. This approach makes it possible to make different combinations each time, in response to the possibilities of a region.

  • Obtaining natural resources:
  • Earth (sand, clay, loam) : earthmoving companies
  • Wood:  nature conservationists
  • Fibers (straw, reed, cattail) : farmers and nature conservationists
  • Wood is used to make the framework and structure of our building system, while earth and fibres mostly form the infill and finishing of it.
  • All parts are demountable and can return to the natural cycle via composting.

The importance of local

Bouwtuin works from a regional value chain, consisting of suppliers of natural raw materials (including farmers, nature managers, earth-moving companies) and artisans, so that we know the origin of the materials we use. This way of working was developed during the action research in the Hilversum region and the Gooi & Vecht region. Here the (im)possibilities of the reintroduction of natural material use were sought. On the basis of a series of facade workshops, the essence of the different materials (earth, wood and reed) and the architectural palette of the region was sought.


Bouwtuin uses a low-tech construction method, in which the raw material is assembled in the purest possible form within prefab building elements. This approach makes it possible to make different combinations each time, in response to the possibilities of a region.

Step one is obtaining natural raw materials:

  • Earth (sand, clay, loam): earthmoving companies
  • Wood: nature managers
  • Fibers (straw, reed, bulrush): farmers/nature managers
  • The supports of the building system are made with the wood and the filling and finishing of these with the fibers and earth.
  • The parts are detachable and can return to the natural cycle through composting.

Environmental impact

  • The exact impact of our Bouwtuin method has not yet been quantified, but based on the following characteristics, there is a positive impact:
  • The regional value chain and limited transport have reduced CO2 emissions. The use of residual flows that would otherwise be incinerated prevents CO2 emissions.
  • Trees and crops such as reed, straw and hemp absorb CO2.
  • A wet crop such as reed prevents peat soil oxidation and contributes to water purification and storage.
  • No external energy is used for the production of earth stones and stucco. The material is air dried.
  • The parts are detachable and can return to the natural cycle through composting.
  • ‘Architectural horticulture’ contributes to meaningful jobs and a healthy building culture.

Good to know

The Bouwtuin method has an open and low-tech character and makes custom-made applications of regional natural materials possible in an affordable way. The detachable prefab elements offer room for (regional) variation and contribute to recognizable and valuable regional architecture. The simplicity of the method makes it possible for clients to build their own, which means that costs can be saved.

Growth opportunities

Bouwtuin sees great potential in the application of its services for small-scale housing in the context of urban periphery densification, rural areas or facade renovation of post-war housing. The reliability with regard to the availability of the regional material is still a pain point and can be organized by entering into long-term partnerships. For upscaling and as a dot on the horizon, the Bouwtuin foundation envisions transforming itself into a regionally based Bouwtuin cooperative of farmers, nature managers, builders and designers in the spirit of cooperative Agricultural Banks at the beginning of the 20th century.



ReLife was founded with the aim of combating CO2 emissions, combating pesticides and soil pollution and offering ecological and natural alternatives in the construction world.

Did you know that planting hemp contributes to the fight against these problems? The hemp plants can absorb a large amount of CO2, they grow so fast that there are no weeds, because of the phytoremediation the plant purifies the soil and the hemp shives can later be used as insulation that can also block the heat of the sun for up to sixteen hours under your roof.

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