About us

Since EPEA GmbH was founded in 1987 in Hamburg by Prof. Michael Braungart, it has developed into an international innovation partner for environmentally friendly products, processes, buildings and urban districts. Our goal is to establish the Cradle to Cradle® design framework for a circular economy in all industry sectors. This allows us to support companies to move onto the right path and become part of the change: from the molecular to the modular level, from chemicals to cities.


Developing solutions together

EPEA (Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency) was founded by Michael Braungart, then the head of Greenpeace’s Chemistry department, in order to not only point out environmental problems but also to motivate companies to act and develop solutions together.  Complex challenges, such as chemicals in wastewater which are harmful to health or the littering of the Earth with non-biodegradable products, demand an interdisciplinary, holistic approach.  And the right partners, who we can bring to the table together. 

„We can transform the doomsday discussion of recent years into positive innovations. “

Since then, we have been supporting important players and companies from the business world, the public sector and the scientific community to implement circular processes and innovative product developments.  In the process, we apply knowledge from chemistry, biology, environmental science and economy and the property sector in order to develop or optimise products of all types regarding their material health and circularity, using the Cradle to Cradle® design framework, which we helped to develop.  In addition, we develop concepts for closing materials cycles in production processes, buildings and cities. 


EPEA – Award winning innovation partner and C2C assessment body

EPEA founder Michael Braungart and his team have received a number of awards for the development of the future-oriented Cradle to Cradle® design framework.  These awards were made possible by cooperation with our project partners.  Only together can we show that change is possible:


[Translate to English:] WorldGBC David Gottfried Global Green Building Entrepreneurship Award (2017)

[Translate to English:] Urban Mining Award (2015)

[Translate to English:] "Germany – Land of Ideas" Award as selected location (2009)

[Translate to English:] Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award (2003)

[Translate to English:] Sustainable Entrepreneurship Award – SEA of Excellence (2013)

[Translate to English:] TIME Magazine – Hero of the Environment Award (2007)

Epea Milestones


Since 2019, Drees & Sommer and the former EPEA Internationale Umweltforschung GmbH have been travelling a joint path.  After five years of close partnership advising developers and investors, Drees & Sommer and Prof. Michael Braungart have joined together under the new company name EPEA GmbH – Part of Drees & Sommer.  Their goal is to establish the Cradle to Cradle® design framework in all industry sectors.



Since 2013,  Drees & Sommer and EPEA have been working together to advance Cradle to Cradle® in the property and construction industries.  The goal is circular, healthy and value-retaining buildings.



The Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Institute was founded in California in 2010, in order to manage the development and certification of the Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM product standard as an independent non-profit institute.



On her journey learning about the idea of materials cycles, Ellen MacArthur visited experts around the world.  In a multi-day workshop at EPEA, the groundwork for the well-known “butterfly diagram” of the circular economy were laid – on the basis of the Cradle to Cradle® framework with a distinction between biological and technical cycles.



The EPEA network grows internationally – foundation of EPEA Nederland, EPEA Switzerland, EPEA Taiwan and EPEA Brazil.



Rob Van Hattum’s film Waste=Food is released.  In the film, the Cradle to Cradle framework is presented in cinematic form for the first time.  The film, which has won several awards, is available online!  



The first book with a detailed description of the Cradle to Cradle® design framework is published.  The title is “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things”.  The book, by Michael Braungart and William McDonough, became a bestseller world-wide.



Development of the “Intelligent Product System” (IPS):  in articles and conferences, EPEA communicated the theory that sustainable environmental protection can be achieved when consumer goods are produced for a closed cycle.


Foundation of EPEA (Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency) in Hamburg by Prof.  Dr. Michael Braungart.  The word “Encouragement” was intended as a contrast to the word “Protection”, such as in the U.S. Environmental Protection Act.  A cornerstone of the EPEA company philosophy is emphatically advocating for cooperation between significant organisations, industry and the state.