How circular construction will make the world go round.
28 September, 2022 by
How circular construction will make the world go round.
Laureen PEROT

When it comes to climate change, the stakes are high and the request of the EU very clear. We are extracting and dumping resources at an unsustainable rate and need to reduce emissions everywhere we can. With construction being one of the world’s most polluting sectors, our assignment is daunting. But it is doable.

In 2019 the construction sector in Europe was responsible for:

  • 40% of greenhouse gas emissions such as CO2

  • 50% of energy consumption

  • 1/3 of water consumption

  • 50% of material flows

  • Production and transport of materials are responsible for a significant % of global emissions

  • The life cycle cost of buildings is much higher than the initial investment 

That’s why circular construction is essential in transforming the industry towards climate neutrality. It can deliver substantial material savings throughout value chains and production processes, generate extra value and unlock economic opportunities. Saving 80% of emissions. And reducing waste to absolute zero.

What is circular construction?

The current linear economy in construction follows a "take-make-waste" model, where we extract raw materials for construction. Once used, buildings are demolished and materials are often discarded or downcycled.  

A circular economy is an alternative model. Here we keep resources in use for as long as possible: extract the maximum value from them when in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life. Circular construction aims to close building material loops by reusing, sharing, leasing, repairing, refurbishing, upcycling or recycling. Aiming to maximise the lifespan and reusability of entire buildings or materials at the very start of the design process.

This model can significantly reduce the amount of newly extracted materials needed and waste generated. The Ellen Macarthur Foundation forecasted that a circular scenario could reduce global CO2 emissions from materials used in construction by approximately 38% in 2050. 

“Cities hold the key to transitioning to a resource and material-efficient and regenerative society.”

Many techniques, tools and approaches related to circular construction have been developed and tested around Europe. They are great showcases for individual projects, but circular techniques are yet to be demonstrated effectively at a city or regional level. Because policy and planning impacts are vital for facilitating systemic change. Cities hold the key. As public authorities, they must seek to collaborate with the industry to find new ways of tackling the growing scarcity of materials and building a new agenda on circular economy.

How do we adopt circular construction at BuildUp?

  • We use parametric design for precise estimations. That way, we can measure every resource to a tee, so nothing is wasted.

  • We use certified systems to ensure improved quality and guarantee performance (fire, acoustic and thermal).

  • We produce all buildings in a controlled environment with systematic quality control. Reducing construction overruns and extra costs.

  • On-site installation is fast, failproof and produces less waste than the traditional process.

  • Buildings are designed to be easily disassembled at the end of their lifecycle.

  • All materials are reused or recycled, serving more than one purpose in their lifetime.

Why is circular construction important?

  • By using fewer materials, producing less waste and tackling vacancy, the construction sector contributes to a sustainable future. 

  • A circular construction sector guarantees economic growth, long-term employment (e.g. recovery, recycling, remanufacturing) and a positive impact on the climate (less emission) and the environment (less waste and less clearing of land). 

  • Circular construction also contains an important social component. It creates financial opportunities through sharing and collective use which can make housing affordable again in the long run.

Circular strategies offer a crash course in preparing the construction sector for the future. By meeting the same demand with fewer materials and fewer products, we save emissions in the clearing of land, production, transport and waste processing. Reuse also plays a key role: using fewer resources and raw materials, meets the same need with less. All resulting in significantly reduced global CO2 emissions.