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Sponge Network
Alex Steffen, 6 Mar 05

Billing itself as "A network for young professionals sharing an interesting in sustainable development and the built environment," Sponge looks to be the coolest group I'd never heard of before this week.

Now, here are the caveats: I don't actually know any of these folks, nor have I been to any of their events, nor do I have any third-party reports of their work except a mention from our buddies over at Treehugger. The Sponge kids could be really mean, or smell bad, or serve as cover for a Romanian Ponzi scheme, for all I know, but, based solely on their website, they seem to just basically rock:

Sponge is a network of open-minded individuals who share a particular interest in sustainable development. These individuals generally work in, or are associated with the development of our built environment; from bricks and mortar through design, engineering and planning to communities and regeneration.

Sponge provides a focus for fresh ideas in building; demonstrating how sustainable development can improve the quality of our built and natural environment. ...

The network of young professionals provides a "safe" environment in which to share ideas of common interest, give birth to new ideas and produce workable sustainable solutions. We aim to foster enthusiasm and encourage our members to drive improvement throughout the construction industry. On top of organising events and networking opportunities we hope to help Sponge members to influence policy through surveys and consultation workshops, and to get involved in improving the sustainability performance of specific projects.

Sponge throws or promotes some interesting events, like this showcase for cutting-edge research into sustainable cities. They seem pretty UK-focused, working closely with the BioRegional crowd.

I'd be interested to hear from Worldchangers: have you come across Sponge before? What do you think? What other networks of worldchangers do you belong to and find useful? Do you, for instance, go to the green drinks events?

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Comments is open source technology, waiting to be taken (deployed and developed) on a payitforward basis.

Initially a greenhouse invention, it can also be used for buildings.

The basic thing is the roof has 2 or more layers. Between the layers a cloud of bubbles (soap, water and air) is created on demand. So you get an artificial cloud which lets the sun in or keeps it out at very low cost. When you destroy the bubbles you get warmer water.

With more layers you can also have a running screen of cold water which aids in the condensation of inner humidity. If the plants use sea water you in fact get water desalination done by plants!

You can also have a running screen of water full of algae so they are exposed to the sunlight every ten minutes. Given that the atmosphere within the greenhouse is closed, you can give the algae some extra CO2 so they grow fat, giving us biodiesel.

People are giving it a try at very low cost.

I'll love to try it myself, and I don't really know, but it sure looks cool!

Posted by: Lucas Gonzalez on 7 Mar 05

Dear Alex,

Thank you for your mention of Sponge. I first came across Sponge 2 years ago while I was actively promoting Sustainability within my own company. At the time, meetings with Sponge allowed me to meet people sharing the same enthusiasm. Sponge members are individuals working within the construction industry rather than corporations exchanging ideas freely. Every time we meet, I learnt more and was overwhelm by what was already happening.
Later my involvement with Sponge grew and I became one of their Directors. We organise events which includes a wide range of issues, we promote sustainability to non believers but also try to lead the issues further afield.

Our next event aims in “Bringing the Sustainable Communities Summit to you!”. With Speakers such as Jonathan Smales (Beyond Green), Stephen Hill (English Partnerships) and Elizabeth Pomeroy (SD commission) lined up for the event, on the evening of April 6th...the venue is still to be confirmed. Please check on the web for more info at

Hope to meet you there!


Posted by: Ingrid Chauvet on 10 Mar 05



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