Buildings as material banks and Circular Success in Amsterdam. Read experiences

Photo: The first fully circular building in Amsterdam’s financial district: ABN AMRO’s CIRCL pavilion.

Architecture in Amsterdam

Throughout the year Amsterdam is one of Europe’s foremost architecture and design city, not only because of 17-th century rings of canals. Amsterdam is where modern architecture developed organically between facades of historical buildings. Since it is not a very big city, all sites of interest are within acceptable distance, this is why Amsterdam is so popular with lovers of architecture.

Six meters below sealevel, the city known for its aesthetically pleasing brick residences built by wealthy merchants from the 17th century are vulnerable to increasing sealevels caused by climatechange. The Netherlands is taking serious measures against climatechange caused by humans and is the world leader of circular economy in architecture today. Recycled materials in Breeam ceritified buildings are found in largescale areas.

The world famous brick buildings of Amsterdam have lasted for hundreds of years surrounding the canals and giving the city a welcoming atmosphere.

Circular Economy and buildings as materialbanks

The Netherlands leads the way in the circular economy. With the aim of achieving significant material savings, the Dutch Government has established the
government-wide programme Nederland Circulair in 2050 (‘a circular economy in the Netherlands by Current building practices are not future-proof.

The construction industry is far and away the biggest user of raw materials worldwide: almost half of what is extracted every year (41 billion tons) is used by this sector (mainly minerals and ores). The impact on people and the environment is huge.

In case you didn’t know – we’re running out of time!

The Dutch government aims to use 50 per cent less primary raw materials by 2030. That is a tough target for the sector.

Imagine that in nine years time or so, a construction project will have to be designed and built in such a way that the materials and construction elements can be reused in a straightforward manner.

What is more, at least half of the structure will have to consist of reusable raw materials or biomass. To achieve this, a lot needs to be done – an awful lot.

Circular business model in short

The circular economy goes further than just making things more sustainable. Improving sustainability often mainly involves reducing energy consumption, whereas the focus in the circular economy is on raw materials.

The Construction & Real Estate sector stands out as a heavy user of raw materials. Viewed from this perspective, we are standing on top of an enormous raw materials bank. From this position, we can make tangible contributions to a more circular economy

Circular inputs

Use non-toxic, high-grade recycled, bio-based or biodegradable raw
materials that are renewable or canbe reused. Reduce the use of raw
materials in general.

Product service-systems

Deliver a service instead of a product and retain ownership. Monitor and
stay in control of raw materials. Relieve clients of the burden and ensure their
long-term loyalty.

Lifetime extension

Maintain and extend lifetime through the use of smart maintenance, repairs,
upgrades and renovation.

Sharing platforms

Combat underutilisation or surplus capacity by sharing products or assets
and optimising their use.

Value recovery

Use waste from used products and the production process to make new raw

CIRCL Pavilion

Circl is a green area in the Amsterdam financial district surrounded by Breeam Excellent buildings focusing on circular economy.

The first fully circular building is ABN AMRO’s CIRCL pavilion. CIRCL was planned and built as an example of “how to walk the circular talk”. The philosophy and ambition was: “doing nothing is no longer an option and that now is the time to create inspiring examples showing that circular business models and building standards are the future.

«A Future-Proof Built Environment” is a report co-launched by ABN AMRO and Circle Economy. The facts are clear: Currently, 40% of all extracted minerals worldwide are used in the built environment.

This report captures and analyses the insights that all parties involved in the planning and construction process have gathered – and cross-referenced with “best circular practices”.

Read the full report here

Park2020 – Cradle-to-cradle working environment

Park2020 near Schiphol airport is the world’s first Cradle to Cradle optimized working environment.

The park combines innovation with sustainable designs, it uses an optimal ecological approach and works with closed systems for energy and water.

Central to the whole approach is human well-being, for today and the future. The total result is in an inspiring, healthy and productive working environment. By using this fruitful methodology high quality services and economic growth are the positive outcome.

Read experiences by Delta Development Group

Short facts Park 2020
  • Biggest collection of Cradle to Cradle Certified ™ material worldwide
  • The Park 2020 Masterplan has received an Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA)
  • Winner SHARE Award 2012
  • Consistent user satisfaction> 95%
  • High Leesman Scores of buildings measured  (Leesman average = 60,4)
    • BSH = 69,3
    • Delta / Technisch Paviljoen = 78.2
  • Total project investment € 354 mln

The site, adjacent to Schiphol Airport, provides easy access to the region and beyond through air, rail, bus, and bicycle routes.

Optimal ecological approach

Park 20|20 is the world’s first Cradle to Cradle optimized working environment. The park combines innovation with sustainable designs, it uses an optimal ecological approach and works with closed systems for energy and water.

Park 20|20’s masterplan is the paramount example of applying the Cradle to Cradle Design™ Framework and Circular Economy thinking to a community-scale development.

Responding to its unique cultural, environmental and contextual challenges, the award winning Park 20|20 master plan creates a mixed-use development that synthesizes the issues of access and mobility, connectivity, passive design, and integrated energy, water and waste management systems.


Each building’s size and massing is optimized for solar orientation so that these exterior green spaces and the building interiors are flooded with daylight. A model of holistic, closed-loop design, Park 20|20 will function as a dynamic environmental system that enhances the local community, its ecosystem and its economy.  Read the Masterplan McDonough+Partners.

The office buildings and cinema can easily be redesigned into other types of buildings as residential. The rooms and walls are flexible and all materials are documented for environmental qualities, re-design, re-use or recycling in the future.

Building materials environmental impact in a lifespan

Following the global economic crisis, the construction industry is once again an important engine of economic growth, but it is also one of the biggest consumers of
raw materials and energy.

Smarter and more efficient management of raw materials is, therefore, crucial to
enable lasting prosperity.

Illustration Co2 aspect in Zero Emission Buildings.
Miljøpåvirkninger i et livsløp illustrert av Svanemerket
Illustration: The environmental impacts of products in a lifespan. Swanmark/ EU-Ecolabel.
Outdoor Park 2020

Green zones, urban plazas, public gardens and canal boardwalks within Park 20|20 encourage a connection to the larger community.

The outdoor area designed for urban farming is caring for biodiversity with plants, water, birds and insects. A greenhouse and outdoor areas produces vegetables to the café or for the employees to bring home.

These examples are helpful insights and makes us hopeful for a better future!


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Circl cafè
ABN Amro Office in Circl
Office buildings in Park2020 Amsterdam
Park2020 Greenhouse


Publish your reputable eco-solution to the buildingsector!

+47 47847774

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