NWE is Europe’s most densely inhabited and developed area. Industry is a major contributor to CO2 emissions, environmental degradation and climate change. Business sites and operations have a considerable share in land use and resources. While they are necessary for the economy, they tend to have a negative impact on society and the environment . Their monofunctional design makes them obsolete when production processes shift to other places and production is organized so that material leftovers are considered without value. The challenge is to change the negative impact of business sites and production into a positive one, for the economy (innovation, competitiveness), the environment (improvement of nature quality & biodiversity) and society (multifunctional, social inclusion etc).
Cradle to Cradle® (C2C) is an innovation platform for developing continuing material flows, using renewable energy and creating ecological, social and economic diversity that serves as the foundation for the development of a circular economy. Despite the growing popularity of the concept, it has been, so far, mostly limited to products, for which C2C certification has been developed. Progress towards C2C in architecture is ongoing, but, despite some early examples, the application of C2C to business sites can still be considered uncharted territory.
In this context, a European collaboration platform was formed in several countries in North West Europe with the objective to enhance the implementation of Cradle to Cradle on new and existing business sites. The three C2C principles will be applied to the entire process of business area (re)development. C2C business sites have a positive impact on environment, society and economy and are future proof.
C2C innovation includes continuous loops to eliminate waste, using the water and heat leftovers of companies. It involves creating energy from sustainable sources with intelligent energy distribution and implementing integrated designs for business sites with long-term added value for economy, environment and society. When combined, these innovative approaches on project-level will contribute to the development of a holistic C2C application strategy for business sites.
In the four years of the project, several pilot sites in the partnership were developed or reconverted according to C2C principles. On each site, different aspects of the transition towards C2C were tested. In the Sustainable Industries Park in London, material loops were closed by setting up a material database and enhancing the exchange of materials between companies. At Ecoparc Windhof, one of the Luxembourg partners, a sustainable energy concept was developed for the whole business site. In the Lille metropolitan area, the former industrial site La Lainière was revitalized with attention to the different types of diversity.
Tools, instruments and guidelines were developed to guide industry and site managers towards becoming part of the circular economy. The final result of the project is “C2C BIZZ – Guide to Cradle to Cradle® (C2C) Inspired Business Sites”, a whitepaper that provides systematic and practical guidance on how to implement C2C on business sites. The knowledge, expertise and professional network generated within the project is gathered in the C2C-Centre. The project pioneered a change in the way of developing, restructuring and managing business sites in NWE, leading to improved quality of life for inhabitants, lower costs on energy, elimination of waste and increased diversity.