The Nature Imperative: How the circular economy tackles biodiversity loss
Published September 2021
Designed by RAU Architects, the timber-based structure of Triodos Bank’s new headquarters in the Netherlands demonstrates the potential of switching to renewable materials as an alternative to finite, greenhouse gas-intensive raw materials. The five-storey office building, with a surface of 12,994m2, contains 1,615m3 of laminated wood, over 1,000m3 of cross-laminated wood (CLT) and five tree trunks. Only the basement uses concrete due to the high-water table. The timber for the structure came from a German manufacturer using spruce from PEFC-certified managed European forests*.
The application of circular economy principles in the building’s design goes further as its structure was designed for disassembly by joining the timber components using screws instead of glue. This means the building can be taken apart simply by unscrewing the components, which can then be reused in other projects. The office is also conceived as a materials bank, with all its materials monitored using a public online repository so they can more easily be reused in the future. Built in 2019, the building achieved a BREEAM Outstanding Certificate for its environmental, social, and economic sustainability thanks to, among other factors, making use of sustainable materials and natural light, and carefully regulating its climate.
Using timber instead of concrete allowed the construction process to reduce its dependence on the extraction of finite resources like sand and gravel, which are associated with detrimental effects to biodiversity, and stored the equivalent of 1,633 tonnes of CO2 in the building’s structure. Moreover, thanks to being designed for disassembly and to using digital technology to record its materials, the circulation of components at the building’s end-of-use will be able to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and resource extraction.
This topic area looks at the role cities play in the transition to a circular economy.
A suite of resources for urban policymakers and change-makers.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation works to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. We develop and promote the idea of a circular economy, and work with business, academia, policymakers, and institutions to mobilise systems solutions at scale, globally.
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