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Circular Economy and Construction

15/09/2020

Studio Victoria

3 minutes

In previous articles, we have already covered several topics such as [What is Circular Economy](/blog/what-is circular-economy/ "What is Circular Economy"),Technology and Circular Economy, and Circular Economy and Renewable Energy. In this blog post we are going to be discussing Circular Economy and Construction by answering the following question: how can Circular Economy benefit the Construction Industry? Keep reading to find out how Circular Economy and Construction can help you to #ONEUPYOURBUSINESS!

HOW CAN CIRCULAR ECONOMY BENEFIT THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY?

Circular Economy supports a system to reduce waste generation and promote reusing and recycling, implementing this system into the Construction Industry can help reduce harmful emissions and help make the world sustainable for the future. Our list of Circular Economy benefits will introduce what it can bring to the Construction Industry:

  • Designing with less materials: design is important when it comes to reducing waste for example around 35–45% more steel is used than necessary meaning construction projects use more material than needed. Designing buildings with less material can be done through less over-specification, improved design, and using high-strength materials
  • Improved construction processes: applying construction processes such as offsite construction, manufactured building elements, and 3D printing have the potential for reducing material demand, waste and helping with the saving of material costs
  • Improving design: due to poor design or a lack of information on a building’s material composition, only a low percentage of around 20-30% of construction and demolition waste gets recycled or reused. Therefore, it is important to design materials for the purpose of reuse to reduce the need for primary materials. The Neverlands is a prime example, improving of the reuse of materials of 70,000 new apartments in Amsterdam before 2040 which will save around 500,000 tonnes of material
  • Recycling materials and buildings: design plays an important role as recycling materials will involve designing materials for dissembling and high-value recycling in order for them to be utilised again as inputs for new production, once they have reached their end-of-life. This can also be applied to buildings that have reached their end-of-life. Recycling materials reduces the need for virgin materials and lower CO2 emissions, hence that the design of recyclable materials and the improvement of secondary materials will play a crucial part in a sustainable future
  • Develop recycling systems: using a Circular Economy strategy of using recycled materials will push for development in materials such as cement and plastics that need improvements. Systems for example for plastics where products can be collected, sorted, and recycled at high value will help in achieving an increase in using secondary materials and lower emissions
  • Reducing waste: waste can be reduced when it comes to supply chains by decreasing the amount of material lost during production. For example, aluminium produced every year does not make the final product and instead becomes waste and 15% of building materials are wasted in construction. Implementing technology and new measures such as process optimisation, 3D printing could help towards reducing waste generation during production and lower emissions
  • Substituting materials: using low carbon, renewable, or secondary materials as alternative inputs to new production will support lower emissions. Timber technologies are an example of renewable material where it could save 62% of mineral construction materials used in buildings whilst also giving the potential of carbon sequestration
  • Renewable energy and buildings: material consumption is estimated to increase from 40 billion tonnes in 2010 to about 90 billion tonnes by 2050 and with CO2 emissions from construction also being responsible, renewable energy and energy efficiency, designs, constructions, and the use of buildings will matter in order to help the world be sustainable and reduce the amount of CO2 emissions

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