Sustainable Development and the Cradle to Cradle® Approach

A literature review to the possibilities to apply the Cradle to Cradle® approach in the built environment

For several decades there has been a debate in scientific literature in the field of sustainable development in the built environment. Until today there is much confusion what does and does not belong to sustainable development and how these developments relate to each other. The same applies to the most recent Cradle to Cradle® approach. The purpose of this review is to provide a literature review on sustainable development in the built environment and to distinguish the key principles.

The literature survey contains information from published articles in scientific and professional journals. The review has focused on the period from 1962 to 2010. In 1962 Rachel Carson expressed its concern about the increasing pollution of the environment through an important scientific contribution.

This review provides a literature review of sustainable development in the built environment, including its conceptual framework and principles of the various movements. Specifically the most recent Cradle to Cradle® approach will be discussed. The approach represents an important step towards a transition from linear to cyclic system, without harm to the environment.

In the book Cradle to Cradle®, Remaking the Way We Make Things William McDonough and Michael Braungart introduce an approach which creates biological and technological cycles, without adverse effects on the environment. Residues are raw materials for another cycle. The Cradle to Cradle®-approach use the following principles:

  1. Food waste is, everything is a nutrient for something else;

  2. Harness the sun, using entirely renewable energy;

  3. Enjoy diversity of species, culture and innovation.

The approach introduced the concept of eco-effectiveness in order to overcome the shortcomings of eco-efficiency. Eco-Efficiency is aimed at reducing and compensating as much as possible of the adverse effects on the environment. Eco-effectiveness aims a development without adverse effects on the environment. The purpose of the Cradle to Cradle® approach is: "A pleasantly diverse, safe, healthy and just world with clean air, water, soil and energy - which economy, ecology, equality and harmony be enjoyed.

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