The 3rd edition of the Green Mind University was on May 28th, organised by Greenfish in partnership with BNP Paribas Fortis, InnoEnergy, Solar Impulse Foundation, Impact Valley, Climate Seed, EU Green Week, and Sustainable Energy Week.
A one-day conference where attendees got to listen to amazing speakers talking about Circular Economy, Mobility and Energy, discover startups between talks tackling the same scopes, and eat delicious food from Choux de Bruxelles.
This year’s edition was held at the Auditorium Chancellerie in Brussels.
This 3rd edition assembled speakers, professionals, innovators, and academics from a variety of disciplines to provide complementary and contrasting views on sustainability-related topics, revolving around low carbon economy and three scopes in particular:
Mobility, Energy, Circular Economy
Inspiring people, courageous start-ups and sustainability-minded companies were invited to discuss green technologies and ideas focusing on all three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social and economic well being.
During this edition, we were careful to leave a low environmental footprint:
- The leftovers were picked up by Happy Hours Market at the end of the day.
- No leaflet was distributed during the event (you could scan it with a QR code that was given)
- No single-use plastic was consumed.
- Our event is offsetted by Climate Seed. The chosen project is Sustainable Clean Water with 67 votes. This project in Malawi is relevant to the SDGs 3, 6, 13 and 15. Its goals are Emissions Avoidance and Energy Efficiency.
The one-day conference started with a brief introduction from our CEO, Nassim Daoudi, about climate change and the goal behind the Green Mind University.
We were all gathered there because we have shared interests… and shared concerns. We all have a shared responsibility to take action. Air pollution, carbon emissions, deforestation, floods and droughts, depleted ecosystems, melting glaciers and rising sea levels… the list goes on and on. To sustain our numbers and way of life, we are digging deep into the reserves of our planet. The scientific community has spoken, the Anthropocene is here, and we have fallen behind in the race against global warming. If we keep doing what we have always done, we will keep getting what we’ve always gotten.
Our case is new so we must think and act in new ways. We believe this is a race we can win. We must seize the opportunities, be ambitious, and dare to expand the sustainable solutions we already have. If anything, we have never been so capable of rapid change. Energy, Mobility, and the Circular Economy have been recognised for their potential to support a fundamental shift towards a low-carbon future and have earned their place at the centre of today’s discussion. As a European player in the transition, we at Greenfish are convinced that it is only by leveraging our network, fostering knowledge-sharing, and the co-creation of solutions that we will succeed in collectively achieving our goals.
The Green Mind University, moderated by Macha Bertrand, had the honor of hosting sixteen players in the field, two of whom presented a project:
- Rasmus Schjødt Pedersen, CEO at Sustainia, introduced the Global Opportunity Explorer. “From risk to opportunity”.
Rasmus Schjødt Pedersen is a Harvard and MIT-educated digital transformer and winner of a Crown Prince Frederik Scholarship for extraordinary academic achievement. In this presentation, Rasmus introduced Sustainia and described how they developed their ‘risk-to-opportunity’ mindset. He showcased the Global Opportunity Explorer and the 2019 Insights publication from earlier this year. It shows the importance of mindsets, strategies, and storytelling, with examples of each from the 2019 Insights publication.
- Sven Jense, CEO at Climate Cleanup, introduced the Project Drawdown. “How to make money, save the world and draw down 1500 gigatons of CO2.”
Sven Jense is the director of Climate Cleanup, a group of entrepreneurs and funders who remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere with the goal of restoring the global balance. With a history in both industrial engineering, political science and the arts, he is deeply engaged in the climate issue and biodiversity crisis, and the emerging opportunities. Project Drawdown lists 100 systemic climate solutions, ranked on CO2 potential, cost and savings. Sven Jense presented the top 20 ‘solutions’ that can reverse climate change by either capturing CO2 from the atmosphere or avoiding CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. His talk was based on the ranking made by Paul Hawken in his book ‘Drawdown’. The Climate Clean-Up foundation brings together several projects that work towards the ambitious goal of removing/avoiding 1500 gigatons CO2 from the atmosphere. Several topics were tackled during this talk: agroforestry, roads made from lignin from elephant grass and seaweed as a multipotent solution.
- Christian Roggeman, CEO at Gramitherm. “How to combine circular economy and thermal efficiency? A positive impact solution in the building insulation market.”
Belgian born and now living in France, Christian has 20+ years’ experience in the building materials sector and has worked in Belgium, Switzerland, France, Spain and the USA. The innovative insulation solution by Gramitherm® has the potential to close the business case for biogas plants. The patented technology is carbon negative, as developed by the Lausanne based company Clean Insulating Technologies. It works with the dry fraction acquired during fermentation of grass. The circular economy Business Model of the product is based on grass provided by “Grasgoed”, an inter-regional project that uses ‘waste’ grass for sustainable solutions. The grass waste will power the process. During a fermentation process, CO2 and methane (biogas) is produced, and the digestate consists of a liquid fraction and a dry fraction. The dry fraction is retained: grass fibres. Those are completed with fire retardant and anti-fungal additives. The insulation blocks are produced in a patented process that consists of de-fibring grass, and adding these dried grass fibers to an « air-lay » manufacturing line. An easy to install, fully recyclable (claimed) and carbon neutral product adds value to a byproduct of biogas production.
- Pierre-Yves Pirlot, Managing Partner at EccoNova. “From NIMBY to YIMBY – A community to help accelerate the energy transition.”
Pierre-Yves Pirlot is a creative engineer who has worked in the renewable energy sector for the past 10 years. His passion for business development and marketing led him to the creation, with his partner Quentin Sizaire, of the crowd lending platform ECCONOVA. While savings in Belgium hit an all-time high, and while citizens are walking through cities in support of the climate, crowdfunding can potentially accelerate the transition to a sustainable model by putting the savings of citizens to work and promoting local acceptance, converting the “NOT IN MY BACKYARD” to “YES IN MY BACKYARD”.
- Nicolas PARIS, Head of Business Development Electric Vehicles at Lampiris “The 5 lies you tell your inner EV driver.”
Nicolas is an electromechanical engineer with 10 years of experience in the power & gas sector. During this talk, Nicolas Paris clarified some general misconceptions about electric vehicles. First, the fear of electricity shortage is not grounded in fact. Secondly a total cost of ownership analysis proves that an electric car is not more expensive than a conventional ICE car. Although the actual environmental impact of an electric car is a question that remains unanswered. Therefore, a reference is made to the explanation of Prof. Francesco Contino, also one of our speakers during this GMU 2019.
- Sarah DELAGE, Senior Program Manager at Pur Projet “Insetting, a way to promote value creation within companies and how to reconcile ecology and economy.”
Sarah Delage is passionate about guiding companies and investors towards innovative solutions that create value through positive environmental and social impact. Insetting represents a vision shared by a growing number of organisations regarding how companies can balance their relationship with the environment upon which we all depend. By engaging in integrated socio-economic and environmental projects, within their supply chains, these organisations are moving to secure the development of a more sustainable future. Insetting can be a powerful tool that can create shared value along the entire value chain of a company. Through business cases, this presentation illustrated how you can apply this concept as a breakthrough innovation that contributes to moving Corporate Sustainability out of the niche market and towards becoming a standard.
- Lennert RASKING, Junior Civil Engineer Architect at BESIX “Tackling air pollution with smart green walls – exploiting the ecology of mosses for a cleaner environment.”
Following his studies in civil engineering, architecture and general management, Lennert started his career at BESIX. After only a couple of months at the engineering department he dropped an innovative idea to make BESIX focus on the problem of air pollution. According to the World Health Organization, ambient air pollution is estimated to cause 4.2 million premature deaths every year. 91% of the world population is living in places where the WHO air quality guidelines levels are not met. Besix is a global scale Belgian company with an impressive engineering and building portfolio. Ten years ago, they built the world’s highest building in Dubai: Burj Khalifa. Environmental concerns drive Besix to come up with solutions within their field of expertise: city air pollution. Lennert presented a fine dust absorbing moss-based technology.
- Olivier VERMEULEN, Independent Civil Engineer “It’s heating up… Let’s get to work!”
Olivier Vermeulen is a social and environmental activist. He discovered the limits of energy efficiency and its impact on our economic model in his studies as a civil engineer at the University of Louvain. Through a philosophical approach of what ‘work’ is, Olivier will try to make us travel between climate and social challenges. Are we ready to come back down to earth instead of exploiting it? Are we ready to see equality as the real path to freedom? There is no time to be disenchanted about society, there is only an urgency to take action, physically, to change our system instead of our climate.
- David ACHARD, Business Development Manager Benelux at Winnow “Exploring the Future Kitchen”
David, an alumnus from the notorious Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne, has dedicated the start of his career to creating value across the hospitality sector through sustainability. He is proud to have joined Winnow’s mission 3 years ago to inspire chefs and others to see that food is too valuable to waste. The fourth revolution is here – Artificial Intelligence (AI) is affecting countries, governments, businesses, and individuals without exception. Like all industries, the hospitality sector is searching for use cases to make kitchens faster and cleaner. In this talk we discovered Winnow, who has recently brought AI into the hands of chefs to cut food waste and make kitchens more efficient and sustainable by scanning the food thrown away.
- Francesco CONTINO, Associate Professor at VUB “Real driving emissions of internal combustion engines: The bad, the ugly, but also the good.”
Francesco Contino, Professor at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, is working on real driving emissions. He focuses his research efforts on three main topics: CFD simulation of internal combustion engine, pollutant emissions of vehicles, and the use of unconventional fuels. With an interesting research background, Professor Contino is in a good position to teach us about the pros and cons of internal combustion engines (ICE). The CO2 impact of today’s transport sector is undeniable. Alternative mobility trends such as hybrid, electric and hydrogen powered vehicles are on the rise for commercial availability. Our society is starting to perceive fossil fuel powered ICE’s as ‘bad’. Professor Contino teaches us that the piston engine will stay an important technology during energy transition. It is necessary to investigate the total lifespan of the vehicle, the fuel and its use. One tool: carry out a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). The LCA’s of different means of transportation shows that, with bio-based alternatives for fossil fuels and the estimated increase of engines’ efficiency (more ‘robust’ engines), the impact of ICE’s will be a contender against its alternative competitors.
- Marc CHASSEROT, CEO at Shecco “Using CO2 as a sustainable way to chill food and cool off people.”
Marc is Founder and CEO of Shecco, an accelerator for climate friendly technologies, specialised in Natural Refrigerant based cooling and heating solutions. The Natural Refrigerant R744, also known as CO2, can be used to power all of the world’s AC and Refrigeration systems. It is more efficient than man-made synthetic refrigerants like the HCFCs / HFCs in use in Supermarkets already today. Furthermore, it has zero Ozone Depletion and a GWP = 1 (Global Warming Potential) unlike HCFCs and HFCs that created the Ozone Hole and lead to massive global warming. According to Project Drawdown, Refrigerant Management is the Number 1 climate mitigation technology available to us today, even beating out Wind and Solar energy.
- Michael OOMS, General Director at Be Planet “Joining forces with Be Planet as a tool to strengthen Elia’s community relationships.”
Michael is an active entrepreneur in the field of sustainable development who graduated as an agricultural engineer and started his career as a consultant. After working as CEO of the company RDC Environment specialized in waste management, carbon accounting and Life Cycle Analysis, he worked as a climate and energy expert for the cabinet of the Federal Minister of Energy and Environment. He now works as the director of Be Planet, the Belgian foundation that supports sustainable citizen projects by building bridges between citizens, companies and local authorities. As part of its efforts to always put the interests of society centre stage and boost the sustainability levels of its activities, Be Planet and Elia join forces. We discovered how Elia, Be Planet and its network of citizens and communities work together to enhance and protect the biodiversity, preserve the richness of the landscape and local culture surrounding Elia’s infrastructure projects, and raise awareness about the energy transition.
- Eleonore VAN DER LANDE, Expert Manager at Solar Impulse Foundation “The solutions for the future of mobility.”
Eleonore van der Lande has spent the past 5 years as a strategy consultant for Roland Berger in the mobility and energy industries. She’s currently the head of the Expert Team at the Solar Impulse foundation and manages recruitment, the Expert community and the Experts’ assessments of innovative clean Solutions. She explained how, from packed public transport and never-ending traffic jams to polluted cities, urban mobility impacts the environment, our health and economies. The impact is so significant that there is no doubt the entire industry will have to undertake a massive shift towards a clean, reliable, and efficient mobility system. To find solutions for these pressing challenges, the Solar Impulse Foundation is committed to identifying and evaluating 1000 cleantech Solutions that have a positive environmental and socioeconomic impact while being profitable. Eleonore van der Lande discussed the scope of the Solar Impulse Portfolio regarding Mobility, the current challenges faced by the various stakeholders in the industry, as well as how a variety of our labelled Solutions provide not only ecological but logical answers to Mobility’s most pressing issues.
- Benjamin DE MOLLIENS, Co-Founder & Head of Partnerships at Plastic Odyssey “Plastic Odyssey, around the world powered by plastic waste.”
Benjamin is the co-founder of Plastic Odyssey and is in charge of building partnerships as well as raising funds. He spent 2 years in San Francisco developing Agorize, a fast-growing French startup specialised in open innovation, fighting plastic pollution in the ocean by developing and spreading low-tech and open-source solutions for recycling and reducing plastic waste on land. The Plastic Odyssey is a ship fueled by plastics that will sail around the world along the most polluted beaches over the span of three years. Its departure is estimated to be in March 2020. Benjamin and his team want to develop a low-tech, open-source pyrolysis technology to produce fuel from plastic waste.
- Felipe VILLELA, Co-Founder & Agroforestry Manager at ReNature “How to make regenerative agroforestry mainstream?”
Felipe Villela is a passionate Brazilian entrepreneur who has graduated with a degree in sustainable agriculture in the Netherlands. His family in Brazil has 60 years of experience with large-scale organic citrus farming, so he has always been in the field of sustainable agriculture. He founded reNature, a Dutch company focusing on educating consumers, businesses and industries about the importance of regenerative agroforestry. In addition, reNature implements projects on a global scale in order to create a portfolio for regenerative commodity production which is economically viable. Their goal is to restore 1 million hectares of degraded land worldwide by 2030.
See you next year for the 4th edition!