Each of the nine City Deal cities has contributed two projects. The diversity of these projects demonstrates that huge variety of possibilities and areas for attention in developing a circular city. Municipal authorities have shown that in collaboration with market parties, we are able to build up a growing pool of experience in the field of circular building, area development, the restructuring of residential districts and the smart combination of parties. By learning lessons from these projects and encouraging the broad reuse of the knowledge gained, the Netherlands is making clear advances towards 2050. This page looks at 18 projects and identifies common grounds

Circulaire gebiedsontwikkeling Binckhorst, Den Haag Circulaire gebiedsontwikkeling Buiksloterham, Amsterdam Circulaire bouw Hof van Cartesius, Utrecht Circulaire gebiedsontwikkeling Rotterdam Central District, Rotterdam Samenbrengen Circulaire coalities, Den Haag Over de Circulaire Stad Circulaire bouw Green House, Utrecht Samenbrengen circulair Grondstoffencollectief, Almere Circulaire gebiedsontwikkeling Frederik Hendrik Kazerne, Venlo Samenbrengen circulaire ontwikkeling Leerpark, Dordrecht Circulaire gebiedsontwikkeling Lincoln Park, Haarlemmermeer Circulaire gebiedsontwikkeling Nieuw Kralingen, Rotterdam Circulaire gebiedsontwikkeling Schiphol Trade Park, Haarlemmermeer Circulaire bouw Stadskantoor, Venlo Circulaire bouw Upcycle centrum, Almere centrum Samenbrengen circulaire Westas, Amsterdam Circulaire herstructurering Wielwijk, Dordrecht Circulaire herstructurering De Parken, Apeldoorn Circulaire herstructurering De Maten, Apeldoorn


Circulaire ambitions

In line with the Paris Climate Agreement and the resources agreement, all circular projects are aimed at reducing the consumption of power, water and materials. It still remains difficult to measure and compare these ambitions and their impact. Nonetheless, there is wide-spread attention for the smart use of (reused) materials and the closing of material cycles. The aim of these projects is to deliver a positive impact on biodiversity and human health. To realise all of these ambitions, there is a clear demand for innovative solutions in terms of both products and smart cooperation between parties. One ambition shared by practically all these projects is to challenge the market. Whether in the form of partnership, financing or the development of a building or area: high ambitions must bring about the innovations needed for achieving a circular economy.

The other side of this coin is the sense that many of the solutions have not yet been developed. Many of the completed projects show that those solutions do exist, but as yet, they do not seem to have been widely taken up. In particular at building level, a great deal is already possible. At area level, all of these projects are still in the preparation phase and huge experience is set to be acquired over the coming years

Circular strategy

The majority of these projects are working towards a circular economy by reusing materials as a valuable resource that today are still viewed as waste. This strategy is employed in all of the projects. In circular construction projects, the underlying principle is often that the materials already in place should not be lost, for example in the revitalisation of De Parken district in Apeldoorn. This approach means that the materials already on site have to be reused in creating new construction projects. The recycled materials can be used either locally or elsewhere.

Strategies based on the use of renewable raw materials and lifetime extension are also common. The use of renewable raw materials is translated into the use of bio-based materials and bio composites. In Almere there are already eleven park benches made from biocomposite, and more than 100 metres of bio-based riverbank protection from the Raw Materials Collective. Lifetime extension is achieved by focusing on repair and refurbishment activities, as undertaken by the Upcycle Centre in Almere. Lifetime extension can also be indirectly achieved by using new business models.

Wherever ‘traditional’ circular strategies aimed at closing raw material cycles are present in all of the City Deal projects, there is clear hesitation in respect of new business models. There are projects in which the municipal authorities as contract-awarders have opted for a product service system. The furniture in the Sustainability Factory (Duurzaamheidsfabriek) in Dordrecht, for example is leased. On the other hand, businesses are organising product-service systems in the new activities created as a result of a circular building or area development project. Finally, a number of projects are experimenting with the calculation of the Total Cost of Ownership. As a result, the costs of solutions that initially appear to be more costly, can in fact be better afforded.

Social impact

Across the various projects, in addition to ecological and economic targets, we are also seeing the emergence of social initiatives. Many municipalities are already using Social Return on Investment in their tendering procedures, for example with regard to the work in the Wielwijk in Dordrecht. This approach means that each contractor, for example a building contractor or landscape gardener, is required to offer additional job (experience) placements to people distanced from the labour market. Although the majority of these job opportunities are temporary, they do generate a boost that offers the employees in question job experience. This increases their chances of obtaining more structural employment. At the same time, work in outdoor space does create regular jobs. It is difficult to estimate in advance the full economic value of these developments. Involving local residents is an integral part of almost all area and building development projects. The general intention is to boost support and collect ideas. The residents of Nieuw Kralingen in Rotterdam, for example, have been actively involved in the area development programme. There is also clear attention for education for society by offering educational opportunities and employing students. For example in its Upcycle Centre, the Municipality of Almere offers educational programmes, and opportunities for students to undertake research into the circular economy. After all, no transition can be achieved without education, awareness, inspiration and knowledge sharing. These projects demonstrate that the social impact may in fact be the most important aspect of the transition from the linear to the circular economy

Project type

Circular building
Circular area development
Restructuring residential district
Combining parties and tasks