Six factors that create circularity in the construction industry
The construction industry is one of the most resource-intensive sectors and generates large quantities of waste. In Europe, construction and demolition waste accounts for around 30% of all waste generated, and only 40% is recycled or reused. To reduce this environmental impact, we must rapidly increase the reuse and recycling of material and products. But how do we do it? To follow are six factors that contribute to greater circularity in the construction and real estate sector.
To break the linear system that currently governs the industry, we need to transition to a circular approach in which we minimise waste and increase recycling. By adopting circular economy principles and promoting re-use, the construction sector can become more sustainable and reduce its ecological footprint.
To follow are six factors that contribute to circularity in the construction and real estate sector:
- Viewing the life cycles of building components in terms of function, lifespan and recycling rate
It goes without saying that products that don’t contain any toxic substances or cause any significant impact on the environment are a top priority when choosing building materials in a circular construction industry. But when prioritising building materials with a long lifespan, we’re also ensuring that the products neither deteriorate, require maintenance or need replacing in the long term. Sustainable material choices also consume less energy and are more profitable for the building in question.
- Prioritising modular and flexible material choices
It’s essential to give priority to materials that are modular and flexible, as they can be easily disassembled for reuse in the same or another function. A clear example can be found in the European research project BAMB (Building As Material Banks), in which several solutions have been introduced to promote circular construction, such as flexible building design and new assembly methods to facilitate disassembly.
- Optimising the use of properties via multi-functional buildings
Working in business models that promote urban development and management is another factor contributing to a more circular construction industry. Traditional office space is currently used about 10% of the time (and perhaps even less now that the pandemic has normalised working from home). By sharing space, where an office space becomes something else in the evening, for example, more properties could achieve a higher level of occupancy, which could also reduce rents for individual tenants. In addition, planning the functions of a property based on synergies and opportunities for sharing space would increase the value of the property.
- Transforming demolition costs into material gains
Studies show that demolition costs need no longer be an unnecessary expense, but can instead become a material gain by designing buildings for dismantling, and introducing extended material information. A Swedish study reveals that almost 75% of a building could be dismantled if there was a market.
- Increasing the level of digitalisation
Numerous European research projects show that increasing the level of digitalisation plays an important role in boosting circularity in the construction sector, as it facilitates the sharing of information between different operators and makes work more efficient.
- Demanding flexibility in new construction
Setting requirements for future reuse in new construction, promoting quality and functional flexibility for new needs and functions, not only improves circularity, but also increases the value of the property.
Circularity is a complex concept. Achieving circular improvements in the construction and real estate sector is largely about making it more economically sustainable. How do you work towards circularity and sustainability in your workplace? With iBinder, you can manage all your project information digitally and calculate and report on your project’s climate impact with a few clicks in our climate module: Climate declaration