ViCo, the first national center for sustainability in Vietnam, will bring together environmentally-driven businesses, entrepreneurs, and policymakers to enhance Vietnam’s role as a regional leader in sustainable development.

As one of the fastest growing countries in the world, Vietnam is ideally positioned to become a core hub for truly sustainable development, with the potential to drive impact across Southeast Asia and beyond. To leverage this opportunity, Except Integrated Sustainability, a leader in innovative sustainability since 1999, is establishing ViCo—a center for sustainability knowledge and innovation in the dynamic region.

Vietnam has seen spectacular growth, with an average annual GDP growth rate of 6.8% between 1990 and 2020 (World Bank). It continues to be one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, with GDP estimated to have increased by 7.5% in 2021. However, this growth has come at the expense of environmentaland economic sustainability, with more challenges looming. To resolve these challenges, the Vietnamese government has committed to a 2030 green growth strategy, with net-zero targets set for 2050. This commitment has encouraged international business and governance to invest and collaborate in the country. Data from the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance (GSIA) reveals sustainable investment assets in Vietnam grew from $1.1 billion in 2015 to $4.4 billion in 2020.

ViCo will play a critical role in this development, providing a shared hub and community for sustainabil- ity-driven local and international professionals and companies from the public and private sectors. The center will provide access to world-class knowledge, training, and innovation while fostering collaboration. By integrating sustainability into urban and organizational transitions, ViCo aims to collectively address challenges such as climate change, resource conservation, and social development, strengthening Vietnam’s position as a regional leader in sustainability.

ViCo is committed to achieving exceptional sustainability performance in both its “software” and “hardware.” We believe in the power of adaptive reuse and the potential to create a sustainable future by revitalizing existing buildings. This is why, instead of constructing a new building for its headquarters, ViCo will repurpose an existing structure to minimize carbon emissions and resource consumption. Through the renovation process, ViCo will transform the existing building into a shining example of adaptive reuse, exemplifying the principles of circular redevelopment, and showcasing sustainability to its members, visitors, and developers across Vietnam. The design of ViCo will draw on lessons learned from UCo, our first sustainability center developed in the Netherlands.

UCo in 2017 after completing renovations.

ViCo, like UCo, will incorporate highly energy-efficient systems, utilize 100% bio-based and non-toxic materials, and optimize natural lighting. By choosing to renovate and repurpose an existing building, we actively reduce resource loss, minimize carbon emissions, and preserve the invaluable history embedded within these structures. This approach underscores ViCo’s dedication to sustainable development, as we strive to create a better future for Vietnam and the Southeast Asia region.

Vietnam’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Mr. Pham Viet Anh, paid a visit to UCo headquarters.

ViCo is now open for crowdfunding (round 1), aiming to raise $1.2 million with a 10%p.a. interest rate for a 3-year loan. This round is open until July 15, 2023, with a minimum investment of $4,000. All early investors in this round will become honorary members of ViCo, gaining access to exclusive perks, events, and global networks.

ViCo will join an expanding international network of sustainability centers. It will be the first in Southeast Asia, with plans for additional centers in Vietnam, Tokyo, and the Netherlands. These locations exemplify innovative sustainable renovation and interiors. Here are three of our other sustainability centers that embody this vision:

  • RoCo (Rotterdam Collective) in the Netherlands
    • The precursor to UCo and the first sustainability-driven innovation community of its type; established in 2009.
  • UCo (Utrecht Community) in the Netherlands
    • Housed in a heritage-listed train depot, now one of Europe’s most sustainable buildings; opened in 2017.
  • The first sustainability center in Japan
    • Two sister buildings in central Tokyo are under development to become a national sustainability education and business center.

After an extensive search, we have narrowed down four prime locations in the heart of District 1 in Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s business capital. ViCo has garnered interest from parties involved in sustainable development, both from Vietnam and the Netherlands. In 2022, Vietnam’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Mr. Pham Viet Anh, paid a visit to UCo, our headquarters in the Netherlands, expressing his support for ViCo and Except’s mission in Vietnam. The project is also supported by the Dutch Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, the Dutch Business Association of Vietnam (DBAV), and several other organizations. [C]

ViCo is developed and managed by Except Integrated Sustainability B.V., a consultancy and design office headquartered in Utrecht, the Netherlands, with team members in Vietnam. Except has been working for over two decades to integrate sustainable solutions into the built environment, organizations, and industry. The company is certified as a B Corp and actively seeks purpose in addition to profit.

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Tim Burrill
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