When we walked up to the gorgeous rooftop bar we were surrounded by neatly dressed business men and business women. Ah yes, I almost forgot, we were in the midst of Amsterdam’s financial center. I was told that – back in the days – the whole area used to be playgrounds and sports fields. Green. Now it is all business and building. And yet we were standing in what I believe must be one of the most pioneering buildings in terms of circularity in Amsterdam, CIRCL. Fascinating fact: this building SUPPLIES instead of DEMANDS energy. So buildings like this solve our energy problem? Absolutely!

The making of story of this building is also quite remarkable. Long after the project was up and running, budgets had been approved and commitments were made, a drastic decision was made. Let’s tear the design apart, this is not working! What they had done was design a building ‘as normal’ and then try to add some ‘circularity dust’ to it. That did not work. They started all over. This time circularity was rooted deep into every single decision they made. They ended up with rainwater flushing the toilets, recycled cement, a pay-by-use elevator, direct (DC) rather than alternating current (AC) for optimal transportation of their solar power, roof isolation made of old jeans and stylish design chairs from up-cycled business uniforms (which indeed were quite ugly..). The whole building was living and breathing circularity and this fostered our coming together with Pymwymic’s NextGens to share ideas, experiences and just having some fun.

We were told how they followed the principle of the right to copy rather than copyright, hoping that their learnings could be of value to others. And while they tried to make the best possible decision they could, they still learned that some choices – with hindsight – were not that sustainable after all. What I realised, was that being open to this feedback was exactly what got them this far in the first place. We can only make improvement by actually taking that first step, doing our utmost best and remaining open for feedback, so the next step will be better again.

And that brings me back to our own mission of impact investing. It is our ambition to create a regenerative, restorative and sustainable economy, which serves the wellbeing of people and planet. We are shifting from an old economy to a new one. And we can only do so by having the courage to do things differently, make the best decision we feel fit and remain open to feedback so our next step is even better again.

Thank you NextGens, First Gens and Current Gens for your openness, curiosity and stories. Thank you Niina from CIRCL for your enthusiasm and openness about the making of this pioneer building. We had a great evening, hope to see you NextGens again soon!