When: Wednesday, March 17 / 1:00 pm – 2:20 pm
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Categorized under: Partner Programs

Applying circular economy principles to the built environment (Morgan State/Baltimore-Rotterdam Sister City Committee)

The general concepts of the circular economy are widely agreed upon: material reuse and refurbishment leading to zero waste and lower environmental degradation, but what does that mean for buildings and campuses, architects and developers? This talk will walk through the practical applications of circular economy principles in the built environment – at every level from design to deconstruction and at every scale from building to region/nation. We will cover topics from urban mining to circular building design and circularity in neighborhood development.

Related article from Metabolic: Urban Mining and Circular Construction


1pm ET Maryland time, which is 19.00 CET Netherlands time. The lecture is approximately 1 hr, followed by 20 min panel discussion with Q&A.

Open to the public. Admission is free. Donations are optional; proceeds will be used for architecture education programs.



The lecture is geared towards architects, developers, construction companies, engineers, building deconstruction companies, and students.

About the speakers

Nico Schouten works as a Green Building Consultant at Metabolic where he helps governments, architects and developers make their projects more sustainable. Here he focuses on the building phase (weighing different types of embodied impacts and the impact of design interventions) as well as the use phase and how to create incentives for the users of the building to behave more sustainably. While studying Architecture at TU Delft, Nico became interested in using architecture to make a more sustainable world. This led him to further research the concept of systems thinking and implementing circular strategies in his designs. After his graduation Nico worked at the AMS Institute as an in-house designer for the transformation of their office, where he helped design a circular meeting space. He also worked at the Centre for Sustainability of the LDE alliance where he was a program manager for research projects on inclusive circular design in metropolitan areas.

Andrew McCue is Sustainability Consultant at Metabolic. He has been involved in food and food systems for many years. Aiming to bring quality, varied, and sustainable food to larger populations, he pursued work on sustainable agriculture with both soil-based and hydroponic farms. Towards the end of this period Andrew worked as a key account manager helping nascent hydroponic farms to build their businesses. Frustrated with the scale of environmental and social issues he saw in the food system, Andrew took to the teachings of Donella Meadows and began to pursue systems thinking as a way to understand the roadblocks continually encountered in the industry. From this perspective, it became clear that redesigning the relationship between urban regions and the food they consume was going to be key in unlocking the change needed to build a sustainable and just food system. The reputation of the Netherlands as a hub of sustainable cities and high tech agriculture, drew Andrew to Amsterdam where he joined Metabolic as a sustainability consultant and business developer for projects in Agrifood and Circular Cities. Andrew is passionate about food and cities, and even more so about making the connections needed to build a fundamentally sustainable, just, and enjoyable future.

About Metabolic

Metabolic is a consulting, research, and venture building firm focused on tackling global sustainability challenges and advancing a circular economy. We advise governments, businesses, and NGOs on how to adapt to a fast-changing global context, while creating disruptive solutions that can dramatically shift how the economy functions. Combining systems thinking and data science, we map and understand local and global systems to assess where to intervene for the biggest impact.

Headquartered in Amsterdam, Metabolic has three core areas of operation. Our consulting arm has developed systems analyses and circular economy strategies for numerous global clients, including WWF, Danone, Duracell, and Akzo Nobel, and city governments such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Charlotte. Our non-profit think tank works at the intersection of academic research and real-world experimentation, advancing open-source knowledge on global sustainability issues,, and our venture building arm has launched spin-offs focused on the renewable energy transition, green chemistry, and sustainable urban development in underserved communities.

About this lecture series

This lecture is one of a series of lectures in 2021 organized by Cristina Murphy, Assistant Professor at Morgan State University School of Architecture + Planning (MSU SA+P)with assistance from Baltimore-Rotterdam Sister City Committee (BRSCC). The lecture series includes speakers from the U.S.A. about Baltimore’s cityscape and urban design, and speakers from the Netherlands about innovative construction materials and circular design systems such as reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling in the built environment. Special thanks to Jeremiah Ekoja, Graduate Assistant at MSU SA+P, for his help with coordinating the lecture series.

See other lectures in this series