Cradle to Cradle

Cradle to Cradle

Combating raw material scarcity with continuous cycles

The Cradle to Cradle® concept (C2C) codeveloped by the German chemist Michael Braungart describes the principle of two continuous cycles (circular economy): Products for Consumption are biodegradable and return to the natural nutrient cycle. Products for Service are broken down into pure raw materials after use and returned to a technical cycle. Material quality is retained, so downcycling – with loss of quality – is avoided. All ingredients are chemically safe and recyclable. There is no waste in the conventional sense – only reusable ‘nutrients’.

Cradle to Cradle® as a basis for circular economy

All parties involved benefit from C2C

As the link between investors/builders/architects and product manufacturers, Drees & Sommer provides clients with the opportunity to adopt innovations in design, construction and operation. At the same time, we offer extensive security that the value of their property will be maintained in the medium and long term. In this way, we act as the central point of contact with in-depth expertise for the implementation of Cradle to Cradle® in the real estate sector and construction industry.

The value add for principals and investors are:

  • Reduced construction costs through leasing of raw materials and performance
  • Higher market value of the property through freedom from pollutants, recyclability, and facilitated disassembly. In contrast to conventional new buildings, no costs are incurred for the disposal of hazardous waste. On the contrary, the sale of disassembled and sorted raw materials results in considerable revenue.
  • The building as a warehouse: Cradle to Cradle® turns our built environment into a kind of raw material warehouse. The building stores the materials used in construction during the service life of the building and releases them for sale at the end of its life.

Users will benefit primarily from:

  • Health-promoting buildings: Cradle to Cradle® is a powerful instrument for quality assurance and improvement, and is beneficial to the health and well-being of users, for example, through improved air quality.

The benefits for suppliers and manufacturers are:

  • New business models: If the construction materials remain the property of the manufacturer as a result of the leasing model, the manufacturer secures high-quality raw materials for the future at predictable prices. Alternatively, a guaranteed return can be agreed with fixed terms and conditions.
  • Long-term growth: If a manufacturer takes back used products for recycling into new products, they can significantly increase their share of the value-added chain.
  • Benefiting from innovations: Cradle to Cradle® is an attractive way for manufacturers to actively meet the planned extension of manufacturers’ product liability, thus profiting from new legislation.

The convincing aspect of Cradle to Cradle® is thus that all participants benefit: Investors and principals can cut construction costs and investment volume. Product manufacturers secure raw materials for the future and open up new markets. And users get high-quality, healthy buildings at competitive prices.


Drees & Sommer is committed to the establishment and promotion of C2C in the real estate sector and construction industry. We collaborate with Prof. Braungart’s Institute EPEA to this end.

In this way, we are committed to projects that combine economy and ecology for our customers in two ways:

  • Through efficient use of energy and resources, leading above all to minimized operating costs
  • Through the planning and  use of recyclable and non-toxic building materials, components and building services equipment

Towards a Circular Economy via Certification

In times of limited resources, it is becoming crucial to the survival of construction product manufacturers that they design their products in such a way that they will also work in a circular economy. The Cradle to Cradle® principle forms the practical basis for a transition to the circular economy by means of product certification. The instruments used include the pre-screening of existing products, the professional certification of C2C products, and the setting up of circular process chains in manufacturing and distribution. The benefits for manufacturers are numerous – for instance, supply chains that are free of toxic substances, and the knowledge that high-quality raw materials will be available at predictable prices into the future.

An Effective Lever: Circular Engineering

Industry experts use innovations such as ‘circular engineering’ to pool expertise across all trades on easily disassembled, recyclable, and flexible buildings and civil engineering structures, and apply it to the technical planning process. Two tools that are essential in this regard are structure catalogs for all key trades, and an extended components catalog that verifies that the materials used can easily be separated. In addition, a material passport gives detailed information on their chemical composition. In combination, these tools will in future facilitate the design of flexible and recyclable buildings.