Interview Elphi Nelissen

Name:  Elphi Nelissen

Department:  Built Environment

Project / Area:  Building sustainability 

What is your perspective/vision about sustainability?

It could take some days explaining what my vision about sustainability is. I work in the Building sustainability area so I am about 10 hours a day working on sustainability and circularity.

I am part of a team of experts from science, government and marker parties. We have the Circular 2050 plan and I am the chair of the agenda (Transitieagenda Circulaire Bouweconomie) that is set in January 15th. The agenda describes the strategy and plans for the period 2018 – 2021. We need to first collect some results and later on apply them. Currently we are building a 100% circular house, jointly with team Virtue. This type of houses are envisioned for the private sector at the moment

Also the lectures I give are about circularity and smart cities.

Circularity definition:

Circular building means the development, use and reuse of buildings, areas and infrastructure, without unnecessarily exhausting natural resources, polluting the environment and affecting ecosystems. Building in a way that is economically sound and contributes to the welfare of humans and animals. Here and there, now and later.

-Transitie agenda circulaire economie 2018-

What is your project/research about? Who are the diverse stakeholders of this  project?

Brainport smart district

One of the goals is to make many private houses sustainable. Everybody should have a goal to be part of that. Finding finance and ways to get your own house in a sustainable way should be an individual responsibility.

We interview and define what it should be done in houses to be more sustainable, we investigate how to help. To be able to translate the ambition from person to government. Rules, goals and measurement tools. We have the vision of the future, what actions to get there.


Atlas building

I was part of the team participating in Atlas building. We managed to set up a high goal and we reacted in a very good way.  Energy savings are part of circularity and circularity is part of sustainability.


What is the impact in a global or local context of your research/project?

It should be an example for the world. An example of what it could be done in the future.

We build Living labs to learn from them. We work together with the municipality of Helmond, Eindhoven, TU/e University,  Tilburg University, among others. It is a Participatory design. We educate people so that they learn how to change the world.

TU/e University is a good place where information can be shared to improve the sustainability awareness. Awareness is important, engaging with young people, inform and give them examples on how to react and how they could change.

About being the first female decaan in the department, gender inequality news lately.

It was hard to start as the first female, I was used to work in a different environment. In academia is sometimes more difficult to show your performance as an individual compared  to other places the community feeling is different (Higher group goals instead of individual goals). The environment at that time was dominated by male thoughts, male ideas, male ways of acting. It was a challenge to adapt to it. But it got easier over time and it is better now since there are more female decans.

If you could give future students an advice, what would it be?

“Come to the TU/e to learn how to change and make a more sustainable world for the future”