Small Swabian Town Big on Climate Protection: Straubenhardt Builds with the Circular Economy in Mind

© wulf architekten
The firehall in Straubenhardt is one of the first Cradle to Cradle® projects in Germany’s public sector.

The circular economy-based firehall in Straubenhardt is about to be opened on May 21, after three years of construction. The building is unparalleled not only in the German federal state of Baden-Württemberg. It is being built by the town of Straubenhardt in the Enz administrative district. It is one of the first in the public sector in Germany to be realized according to the Cradle to Cradle principle of the circular economy. This refers to a recycling-compliant system in which building materials are designed to be reused and recycled in a new construction project when they are repurposed or deconstructed. For this pioneering work, Baden-Württemberg's Minister President, Winfried Kretschmann, has already praised the township as a role model in sustainability for other communities. Stuttgart-based architectural firm wulf architekten gmbh planned and realized the sustainable landmark project with support from the environmental consulting institute EPEA GmbH, a subsidiary of the consulting firm Drees & Sommer SE.

The Cradle to Cradle principle (C2C® for short) essentially involves using raw materials for products, processes and buildings in such a way that they are either conserved in the same quality, or can be returned to the biological cycle in a completely degradable form. The fire station built according to this principle is thus transformed into a valuable depository of raw materials and store of materials. Straubenhardt also intends to aim at using this construction method for new commercial and construction projects. By building the new firehall, we are already implementing the measures planned for the future by the German government to drive forward the circular economy in the construction sector. For example, the digital building circularity passport is being used for the first time in a public building,’ says Straubenhardt’s Mayor Helge Viehweg.

Overall, the new firehall in Straubenhardt primarily uses materials of the same kind, such as wood, metal and concrete. Together with the architects and specialist planners, the environmental consulting institute EPEA GmbH selected almost 250 individual materials for the 80 or so building components. It then tested them for attributes such as their materials-related health, ability to be separated and recycled, and their CO2 emissions during production and transport.

The team headed by engineer Daniela Schneider advised on the architectural competition, ensured that the materials can be recycled, and prepared a building circularity passport. ‘This is a kind of climate certificate for buildings that transparently shows how much CO2 the building material produces, and how sustainable the used material is. When the building is repurposed or deconstructed at the end of its useful life, important information is available about what it is made of, and in what quantities the various building materials are present,’ says the engineer.

More information you could find in the press release.