Studio Victoria

Designing Out Waste


Studio Victoria

4 minutes

Following on from previous articles where we covered Technology for Modular Design, Prefabrication and Modular Design, Technology and Circular Economy, and explained what 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) are. Today we are going to take a very brief overview outlining how, Technology, Circular Economy, and Prefabrication/ Modular Design can all work together by answering the following questions: what is the circular design process? and How can Technology, Circular Economy, and Prefabrication/ Modular Design all work together? Keep reading to find out how all are connected and working together to help you to #ONEUPYOURBUSINESS!


What Technology, Circular Economy, and Prefabrication/ Modular Design all have is common is their design to design out waste. A Circular Economy carries the principle of designing out waste and pollution supporting a system of reduce, reuse, and recycle. This means avoiding any waste and being more sustainable with raw materials, so less damage is caused to the environment. As we enter a Circular Economy from a Linear Economy where designs were once focused on the traditional model of a make-use-dispose approach to using resources, now means that things are being redesigned in accordance with the Circular Economy principles.

Therefore, design is a big factor and needs to be considered in all industries and sectors with important decision-making on how it is manufactured, how it is used, and what happens when it is no longer necessary or needed.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation identifies four stages to the circular design process:

  • Understand: getting to understand and know the user and the system
  • Define: defining the design challenge and your intention as the designer
  • Make: designing, ideating, and creating prototypes of as many iterations and versions as you can and constantly testing and refining
  • Release: launching your design into the world and building your narrative. Building customer loyalty and increasing investment from stakeholders


The objective of a Circular Economy is to prevent waste and pollution which supports the UK government's sustainable development goal of reducing the UK’s greenhouse gasses by 100% by 2050. The Technology Industry is vastly growing, and its innovative technologies can help other industries significantly to achieve the goal of net zero. Prefabrication and Modular Design enables designs to be customised, repaired, upgraded, and reused where they are manufactured in a factory to be transported to the location of construction. Below we discuss how Technology, Circular Economy, and Prefabrication/ Modular Design can all work together to accomplish a more sustainable future:

  • Increasing lifecycle: Prefabrication/Modular Design and Technology support the Circular Economy as they can significantly change the lifecycle of energy infrastructure. The designs enable buildings ease of having renovations, building maintenance, and adapting to changing needs. Technology is creating a new wave of innovation such as IoT (Internet of Things), AI (Artificial Intelligence) and AR (Augmented Reality) that is helping change the world. For example, you will be able to rely on predictive maintenance to monitor equipment performance and building maintenance to predict any malfunctions or breakdowns that may occur and alert you in order for you to take action. This can help you repair building and equipment before any issues occur allowing you to potentially increase lifespan
  • Designing out waste: in construction the flexibility in design of structure and with prefabricated construction units allows designs to be used in different spaces helping to reduce waste in landfills compared to traditional construction. Combining technology to modular designs allows for offsite construction, sub-assemblies being created off-site manufactured building elements, and 3D printing under factory controlled conditions allowing them to stay of high quality and require less materials hence reducing waste and allowing any leftover materials to be recycled in-house rather than ending up in landfill. BIM (Building Information Modeling) can also provide accurate calculations and measurements of areas, volume and distances and much more, helping in the planning and design stage and reducing waste ending up in landfills as it can help determine how much material and resources are required
  • Improving sourcing and the marketplace: as a Circular Economy pushes for a reduce, reuse, and recycle system and a Modular Design allows designs to be upgraded, repaired and for reuse, technology will be able to improve challenges companies may face when replacing materials with recyclable options. Technology can help by collecting information on local marketplaces and waste collectors to provide industries with insightful data and source information with ease helping to improve sourcing and the marketplace and supporting a recycling system
  • Eco-friendly and sustainable: Technology, Circular Economy, and Prefabrication/ Modular Design together contribute to a sustainable future. Modular construction enables buildings to be reused and recycled, reducing harmful emissions, and preserving natural raw materials which in turn helps reduce waste and supports the Circular Economy as building materials are designed for reuse. The buildings can implement technology such as smart devices to help reduce energy consumption such as water, electric, heating, air, and lighting. IoT-enabled sensors and monitoring enables you to track, regulate, control your environment to your preferences helping to reduce energy consumption. Together each one plays a key role in decarbonisation to help reduce greenhouse emissions to help achieve net zero
  • Improving engineered buildings: the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Prefrabicition/ Modular Design enables you to assess energy performances and discover cost-effective measures. It can also, when utilised with 3D design ensure that the building is appropriate for the intended location and design requirements. Implementing technology and construction processes such as 3D printing in modular buildings will help produce accurate sub-assemblies, be consistent in quality which in turn generates less waste and lowers carbon footprint
  • Helping quicker construction time: new technologies combined with modular construction can allow for projects to be completed around 30% more quickly than traditional builds. Robotics, 3D Imaging, and drones can support modular design and offsite construction by providing more cost-effective, sustainable, faster, and accurate measurements and sizes. 5G’s speed can also provide real-time information providing quick responses to changes and updates and ensure coordination with the project. Applying technology to design also supports the Circular Economy as it reduces waste, emissions and material demand helping to save on material costs along the way

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