New playbook on the circular economy targets construction

The built environment has a major role to play in shifting to a more circular economy and avoiding climate catastrophe, according to a new guide from the World Green Building Council

The World Green Building Council and its global network of more than 75 Green Building Councils have launched a guide for the building and construction sector to accelerate the adoption of circular economy and resource efficiency principles.

The principles of the circular economy support the achievement of global climate targets: from minimising the extraction of materials and using more efficient designs, to optimising nature-based solutions and closing material loops at the end of a building’s lifecycle.

Called the ‘Circular Built Environment Playbook’, the new guide presents strategies for the built environment to reduce its resource consumption and features market leadership and solutions from across the World Green Building Council’s network.

Unsustainable direction

According to the Council, use and waste of materials and products is trending in a dangerously unsustainable direction, with latest estimates showing that the world is only 7.2 per cent circular; this means that more than 90 per cent of everything we make is discarded after use.

In 2022, a year’s worth of biological resources was used in just seven months – that means currently, we consume 75 per cent more than the planet can replenish each year. With cities producing an estimated 70 per cent of all global greenhouse gas emissions, and consuming almost half the resources extracted globally, the built environment sector has a massive role to play in shifting to a more circular economy.

Cristina Gamboa, chief executive of the World Green Building Council, said: ‘It’s clear that if we want to secure a future for our planet and people, then we cannot keep going on this path of consumption and waste. That’s why our network is taking action to increase awareness and accessibility of circular economy solutions, by guiding all stakeholders towards sustainable, circular decision-making.’

Unparalleled opportunity

The Playbook acknowledges the essential role of the circular economy in tackling the global environmental crisis. It also underlines that there is now ‘an unparalleled opportunity’ to regenerate resources and accelerate socio-economic development. More than 20 strategies are explored to implement circular design approaches across all building stages, and the report also presents best practice case studies from across the global built environment.

Every player in the building and construction supply chain should be ‘circular ready’. Taking action and supporting the transition will require cross-sector collaboration and be key to overcome barriers.

According to Chris Trott, head of sustainability at architects Foster + Partners, one of the Council’s global programme partners, ‘Adopting circularity in the built environment is essential to achieve a regenerative balance, by facilitating the decarbonisation of the industry, limiting finite raw materials extraction and waste production, all while staying within planetary boundaries.’

WORKTECH Academy readers can access the ‘Circular Built Environment Playbook’ here.

This article was produced in partnership with SALUS Global Knowledge Exchange, a content partner of WORKTECH Academy.
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