Cradle to Cradle

Cradle to Cradle

Buildings as feedstock of the future

According to United Nations estimates, the construction industry in Europe accounts for almost 50 percent of raw material consumption. At the same time, the construction industry in Germany is responsible for almost 60 percent of waste generated (Federal Statistical Office).

But all players know that the Earth’s natural resources are limited – resulting in an increasing focus on the issue of raw materials shortage. According a study, 85 percent of companies in the construction industry are already suffering from rising raw material prices.

And a Commerzbank study found that raw materials supply was already a more urgent issue for companies than energy.

The material cost of building construction projects (excluding power) currently accounts for some 22 percent of the gross production cost. In road construction, the figure is over 30 percent. All forecasts point to a further increase in competition for raw materials.

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’.

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

On April 23, 2015 the second Cradle to Cradle® forum named “Between illusion and reality” took place in Stuttgart. The forum was dedicated to construction and real estate economy.