DERIX-Group: building transition and “cradle-to-cradle" now

DERIX-Group sets a standard for taking back used construction components

The construction of buildings causes 11 per cent of total CO2 emissions worldwide and is responsible for around 55 per cent of the waste generated (1). For this reason, the decisions we make about how we construct our buildings and with what materials have a considerable impact on how our planet's climate develops – if we continue to use steel, stone and concrete unchecked for building we will increasingly feel the negative consequences of the current construction boom on our climate. However, if we choose to build with wood, we not only avoid CO2 emissions, we even compensate for them: wood extracts CO2 from the atmosphere and stores it. So if we build our buildings out of wood, we are creating huge carbon sinks and preventing the CO2 from causing damage in the atmosphere. But the captured CO2 only remains bound in the wood until it burns or rots – at which point the wood releases the same amount of CO2 that it previously stored. The entire construction industry therefore needs to set itself the goal of extending the service life of all wooden building components to the maximum in order to make full use of the positive effect of CO2 capture for the protection of the atmosphere for as long as possible.

As a manufacturing company in engineered timber construction, the DERIX-Group is committed to protecting the environment and strictly aligns its production processes with the principles of sustainability and resource conservation. For this reason, the company is now taking another big step in the direction of climate protection and circularity: the DERIX-Group is committing to taking back used wooden components as standard for its customers with immediate effect.

"Here we are addressing the question of how we can make our processing procedures and operations even more resource-efficient and sustainable on an almost daily basis. After all, we work with the most sustainable building material there is: only wood has the remarkable property of removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing it. Only wood grows back. It is therefore only logical for us to take the next step now and offer our customers the opportunity to return our high-quality wooden components at a later date as standard. After all, our components are so durable that they can be used for many decades after their production," says Markus Steppler, Sales Manager at the DERIX-Group, explaining the latest innovation.

With the introduction of a take-back obligation, the DERIX-Group is embarking on the implementation of the now much-touted "cradle-to-cradle" principle, where raw materials are passed on from cradle to cradle and, ideally, become part of an endless material cycle. This pioneering concept conserves the maximum amount of raw materials, because the raw materials are extracted once and then used again and again.

Given the fact that we do not have an unlimited supply of raw materials, this new way of producing and doing business is gaining huge significance. With sustainable forestry, wood is always available again – in contrast to concrete and cement, whose production releases enormous amounts of CO2 and irreversibly interferes with nature through the extraction of sand and gravel.

"Using wood from sustainable forestry as a building material protects our environment," summarises Markus Derix, owner and Managing Director of the DERIX-Group. "Building with wood is an absolute must in view of the current challenges posed to us by climate change. The reuse of wooden components, which we have now initiated, is still the icing on the cake for the moment. However, I hope that this will soon become widely established as standard practice outside our group of companies so that we can all reap the benefits as soon as possible.”

Cradle-to-cradle: reference projects

The Cradle (c) Interboden GmbH & Co KG

The Cradle, Düsseldorf

This office and restaurant building is currently under construction in Düsseldorf's Medienhafen. All processes in the design, planning and construction phases are thought of in terms of cycles, and circular solutions are sought along the entire value chain. Key structural elements here are made of wood and are manufactured according to the principle of "design for disassembly": reversible connections are used to achieve the greatest possible degree of recyclability through an ability to be dismantled.

ABN Amro, Circl (c) DERIX-Group

Triodos bank (c) Bert Rietberg for J.P. Esteren and DERIX

ABN Amro Bank, Amsterdam - Triodos Bank, Zeist

These two projects in the Netherlands are also characterised by their focus on circularity. The "Circl" pavilion by ABN Amro even bears the name of its concept – here, the idea of circularity was implemented throughout, from the choice of sustainable building materials to the leasing of lighting and lifts, the implementation of a self-sufficient energy concept and the elimination of everything superfluous – right through to the name of the pavilion.

Circular economy and sustainability were also at the heart of planning for the new Triodos Bank headquarters. The supporting structure, for example, is made almost 100 percent of wood. The five-storey high wooden construction can be completely dismantled. Even the client sees its building as a "material bank", because the components can be reused after dismantling.

For more information on the topic and the DERIX-Group, please contact Susanne Gruchow at We will also be happy to arrange interviews with our experts on the subject of sustainability and glued laminated timber construction.

1) Sources:

Architecture 2030

UN Environmental Global Status Report 2017

Umweltbundesamt, 18.08.2020