How Zurich Blazed a Trial for Recycled Concrete

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As more and more new buildings are erected around the world, one city in Europe is trying to make the concrete jungle a bit greener.

Zurich has quietly become a frontrunner in advancing environmentally friendly construction, adopting green measures long before most companies started publicly emphasizing their sustainability.

Inspired by a public debate about two decades ago on how to reduce the amount of gravel that’s extracted and used in construction, Switzerland’s largest city has become a trailblazer for more sustainable construction. It built its first building with recycled concrete — a school building where 80% of concrete used had come through the recycling process — as far back as 2002. Three years later, it introduced a requirement that all publicly-owned buildings have to be made using recycled concrete. In 2013, the city went a step further to mandate the use of Co2-reduced cement. Now other cities are starting to take note, adopting practices that have been standard in Zurich for more than a decade.

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