Bauwende with Baukom

Built for your kids

The construction sector has to change for it to have a future. What are the challenges and solutions that are already mapped – and where are we headed?

Imagine your daughter Lea will be born in nine months …

So you're building a house for your young family. You draw floor plans, pour a foundation and build walls. One evening you're sitting under the freshly covered roof and finally have a few free minutes to let your thoughts wander.

What did it take to build this house?

What have once been fine lines on paper then became a tangible reality by the treasures of our planet. You think of clay, quartz sand and trees that are now plaster, windows and beams. This house consists of your love for detail ... and the limited raw materials of a unique planet.

A few years along

And Lea comes of age …

So you're tearing it all down again. Just 18 years later and you don't bother to recover the raw materials. They end up on a heap of rubble and are now a burden for the planet instead of value to our lives – for which you pay by the container.

Irritating? Yes.

Entirely fictional? For private builders, yes it's fictional – often someone else can just move in. How about industrial construction?

Just flattened it all

The Fortis Bank in Amsterdam has been a painful example for a life-threating trend: An ever shorter lifetime for our buildings. The bank building was completed shortly before the turn of the millennium and torn down again in 2014. There was noone to go on using it. So? Demolition!

Until now, raw materials rarely get recovered from structures...

... and get downgraded in an instant due to demolition. Occasionally, they get »downcycled« as rubble beds for roads, but more often they head straight toward the rubble dump. There they only manage to do one thing: to deepen our harmful footprint on the surface of the earth.

Like fish in the sea …

... we don't notice what's around us all the time. Most of our daily hours we spend indoors, 87 percent to be exact. That's where valuable and too often toxic resources are hiding.

But it's not just about indoor air pollution and the Sick Building Syndrome. This is also about the sheer volume of raw materials. An ever-growing number of people need a roof over their heads.

Who wants to give up their house first?

At home it should be cozy and warm, at work the wind shouldn't blow our notes off the desk and the theater play in autumn would, without a roof, be a rather humid experience.

No one is willing to give up protective walls and face storms half-naked. Not again. What does that mean for everyone who builds our houses?

An open letter to the construction industry

From mountains of rubble toward a better world

Hey, I'm Stefan. I'm very worried about the world we're going to leave to our children.

We have seen unparalleled economic growth in recent decades. Whatever it produced, we promptly declared to be our new standard of living, while gradually causing enormous environmental damage in the process.

As a top manager, for a long time I have been a part of the problem rather than a part of the solution. As you are reading this, I am changing my ways – and I am inviting the entire industry to help realize the Bauwende.
Because more than a manager i'm a father.

Anyone who doesn't see a huge footprint is standing in it right now …

In Europe, of all the raw materials we take from the earth's crust, the construction sector takes about half. Nearly half of the European landfill comes from construction. So, how does our infrastructure compare to the natural environment in which it was built?

For example, for 2.93 billion tons of forest cover, in Germany there are 15 billion tons of building stock. So the footprint of our buildings now weighs more than five times our forest - as much as 150,000 average blue whales or 50 trillion chunky squirrels.

The construction sector also produces well over a third of the Europe's greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, the climate is sending clear signals: The temperature is rising!
Our
house is
on fire!

The clock is ticking …

... and the flames have reached the supporting beams

According to calculations by the MCC, we have until 12 noon on December 29, 2027, to get our global CO2 levels under control just enough to hit the 1.5-degree target.
d
h
m
s
Which levers are we to pull to start a decisive change in time? Well, let's start with construction, because once again the data at a glance …

Construction in Europe generates …

40
%
of greenhouse gases
45
%
of waste
50
%
of resource extraction

For how long can we keep on digging out the global sandbox?

Global resource consumption has more than tripled since 1970: from 26.7 billion metric tons to 92 billion metric tons in 2017.

The International Resources Council (IRP) estimates that our need for resources will double again within the next 30 years and will be around 170 and 184 billion tons in 2050. So without a change in trend, the global human use of resources will increase sevenfold in 80 years - within just one human lifetime.
.

It's not just closing in ecologically …

In 2014, the renowned consulting firm McKinsey released a report in collaboration with the World Economic Forum and the Ellen McArthur Foundation.

The report shows the development of commodity prices since 1900 and speaks clearly.

Up to date

In pandemic times this trend shows itself to be irreversible – and picking up speed!
Learn more »
We do not only have an ecological, but also an economic crisis – a real eco-crisis. Resources are becoming increasingly scarce, driving prices upward. After decades of falling prices, this is an extreme shock to the market. A wake-up-call by freezing water to the face.

We have to face the question: Do we wait for a burning house to dry the sheets or do we start looking for better ideas than that?

Solutions

Time to wake up!

The linear economic model of take-make-waste is waving goodbye and recycling aswell is not thinking things through to the end.

Our goal has to be: Use healthy materials, indefinitely. Water circulates in the atmosphere, minerals in the earth's crust, nutrients in the soil – are we smart enough to do the same with the resources we depend on?

Linear

Just … litter

Recycling

Complicated litter

Circular

Well-rounded

Linear

Just … litter

Recycling

Complicated litter

Circular

Well-rounded

Thinking things through to the end

If our resources are to circulate aswell, Cradle to Cradle® shows the way. In this model of a circular economy, resources flow in two separate cycles. Circulating in these are …
Biological nutrients & consumer goods such as compostable plastics made from corn starch return to the cycle of nature after use. They are free of toxins, rich in nutrients and healthy for the ecosystem.
Technical nutrients & service goodssuch as steel and petro-plastics circulate in the industrial cycle. The goal is to completely retain material quality in order to use the materials again and again.
Circular Economy powered by Cradle to Cradle® brings all materials to flow within two cycles: biological and technical.

Time for true sustainability

There's good news: The 2020 Circularity Gap Report estimates that carbon reduction plans and circular models are mutually supportive

As early as 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) credited the construction sector with the greatest potential to reduce its vast emissions levels at the lowest cost.

Both the economy and the environment are sending clear signals: There is no way around true circularity and smart emissions management. New models are needed – and fortunately they have already been thought out.
»The construction industry consumes enormous amounts of raw materials every year and is a big factor for our planet. 
Buildings need to become raw material storage facilities or use renewable raw materials that are not harmful to nature. 
Stefan has become a friend, his enthusiasm is contagious. Rarely has anyone implemented a C2C idea as quickly as he has.«
– Prof. Michael Braungart, 
   co-author of Cradle to Cradle® (C2C)

Biologically degradable

New soil for a new generation

When explaining to my son what C2C is all about, I tell him that we as humans can create healthy abundance together instead of tons of waste. That's why our packaging film is biodegradable and dissolves in nature after a few weeks - we tested it ourselves.

packed smartly

Straight edges instead of bent profiles

Reduced emissions, no waste and no re-ordering, instead more planning security and elegance – SmartPac is popular for many reasons. Our customers report that they reuse these tubes many times before the lightweight cardboard creates an equally light footprint.
For us, this is just the beginning. We are on our way to develop more and more healthy solutions for a better future.

Our way of thinking is about finding initial approaches to how each of us can do something for people and, at the same time, for nature, within the scope of our own possibilities.

We want to prove that we can already make a lot of difference with our ideas - and much more if the entire industry were to follow this path and started thinking about where the raw material can be used in the second or third application and beyond.

Prized excellence

While a clear vision is priceless …

… innovation does not have to go prizeless. Thankfully, our work has already been recognized.

Initiative

Together toward a better future

We can only initiate the Bauwende together. That's why we cooperate with the most capable people in the sustainable consctruction scene and are constantly expanding our network. Interested in a cooperation? Get in touch with us!
Mail us »

A call to action for the construction industry

Time for the Bauwende

There's only one planet for us – how will we pass it on to our children? True sustainability has to be integrated into business plans and into the DNA of all companies, just a few companies are not enough. It is the common path from disinterest and greenwashing to the »green core« of corporate action.

The construction industry needs more people and lighthouse projects with fresh ideas, fresh business models and the courage to innovate.

People and construction can be a benefit to the planet when the building materials are recovered and then the next house is built - which gives more than it takes. The benefit of this? We feel comfortable and not a burden.

I'm looking forward to shape the world of tomorrow with active players in the construction industry!

So I've put together an overview of what you can do now as an activist in the construction industry:
For architects and engineers
Take a look at the Building Material Scout (BMS), where you will find your sustainable materials at a glance.
This is the way to the Building Material Scout »
For private builders
Check in with your local building materials store and ask about sustainable alternatives to regular building materials.
Also take a look at the Building Material Scout (BMS), where you will find your sustainable materials at a glance.
This is the way to the Building Material Scout »
For business partners
Become part of our initiative and let's work together today to develop the solutions for tomorrow.
Mail us »
For industrial companys
Become part of our initiative and let's work together today to develop the solutions for tomorrow.
Mail us »
For journalists
Inquire and publish about sustainable construction and the Bauwende. Let's talk about a media partnership to gently push the topic into all channels.
Mail us »
Stefan Endlweber,
CEO of Baukom Group
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