Die winners of the EDGE/Vattenfall Sustainability Challenge: EcoBeans und Sally R

Credit: EcoBean/Sally R

EDGE/Vattenfall Sustainability Challenge: The Winners

Polish start-up EcoBean and Swedish company Sally R are the winners of the Sustainability Challenge, organised by Vattenfall and EDGE and carried out with the support of Urban Impact. Their innovative solutions will be incorporated into the hybrid-timber Edge Südkreuz Berlin building.     

Reusing old coffee grounds by turning them into valuable organic products – and a technical plant that extracts CO2 from building ventilation systems to prevent it from escaping into the outside air and instead putting it to sustainable use – are just two of the innovative ideas presented by the winners of the Sustainability Challenge, which was launched by project developers EDGE and energy provider Vattenfall in cooperation with Berlin-based consultancy Urban Impact at the end of April. The two start-ups EcoBean and Sally R prevailed against more than 60 competitors from 12 countries. Prior to their win, they went through a co-creation phase, along with one other finalist, supported by a team comprising members of EDGE, Vattenfall and Urban Impact.

The aim of this international competition: to find and promote smart tech solutions that are in line with the sustainable, underlying idea behind the EDGE Südkreuz Berlin project, which is where they will also be put to use. And the competition had another central aim: to motivate building employees and visitors to more sustainable behaviour. Both companies met the challenge with fresh ideas, as Jonas Schorr, partner at Urban Impact, explains. "The winning start-ups EcoBean and Sally R have created solutions that take a new approach to embedding sustainability and circularity in everyday office life, thus making it visible. During the co-creation phase, we joined up with the teams to test the original ideas intensively and develop them further to create detailed project plans for their implementation.”

For more sustainability and circularity

As soon as the building is open for business, Polish company EcoBean hopes to be able to recycle up to 10 tons of coffee grounds per year in future. To date, this refuse is primarily disposed of through household waste; the company now plans to convert it into valuable organic products, new raw materials and green energy.  “The coffee industry is still growing and faces two major challenges: waste and CO2 emissions. Our solutions could reduce the CO2 balance of total coffee sales by at least 25 percent,” says a team spokesperson.

Sally R plans to extract CO2 via the building’s ventilation system; it will then be fed into a small plantation within EDGE Südkreuz Berlin to help it grow. The Swedish start-up had already been working on this new technology for capturing CO2 for two and a half years. Winning the Sustainability Challenge has given the product new impetus, says Fredrik Tunberg, CEO at Sally R. “This technology, which has been registered for patent approval, will allow us to capture CO2 from the building’s ventilation system, which in turn will open up numerous opportunities to increase energy efficiency and implement a circular economy with regard to indoor air.” Using carbon to create something positive, such as edible greens, illuminates what the company aims to achieve, Tunberg adds. The proposed solution for the new Vattenfall headquarters is now being tested for feasibility.

Innovative solutions for Germany’s biggest hybrid-timber building

The EDGE Südkreuz Berlin building (link available in German only) is currently being constructed on a site of around 10,000 square metres, situated  between Südkreuz station and Schöneberg urban railway station as part of the Schöneberger Linse urban development project. Germany’s biggest hybrid-timber building is scheduled to be completed in early 2022 and is considered one of Smart City Berlin’s flagship projects. In the coming year, Vattenfall will move into the Carée, one of the object’s two office buildings, with a rental space of 22,000 square metres. Characteristic elements of the Carée are its sculptural “trees” in the building’s open atrium, which support intricate staircases. 

The winning solutions of the Sustainability Challenge will be integrated into the new building from the end of 2021 onwards. “We can now swiftly make these ideas a reality and thus have a real impact!” says Jonas Schorr, delighted. “This proves that the open-mindedness and innovative spirit that inspired EDGE and Vattenfall to initiate the Sustainability Challenge and take a new approach to how they cooperate with start-ups – and to identify the best solutions for EDGE Südkreuz from among 65 entries from across Europe – was definitely worthwhile and will be an amazing blueprint for future projects.”  

To ensure both winning teams will be able to realise their ideas as quickly as possible, they will receive financial support, with the prize money comprising a budget of up to € 100,000 each.

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