Author: Andrea Charlson (LWARB)
The world is in the throes of a climate emergency. Tackling the crisis requires not only mitigating our carbon footprint at present, but evolving our entire way of living and working to ensure a sustainable future. The construction industry in particular faces an imperative to make radical changes.
The circular economy and its role in catalysing circular construction
An approach that is gaining traction among the solutions for a sustainable future is the circular economy, which is 'based on designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems' (Ellen Macarthur Foundation).
Circular construction is where we close material loops by reusing, sharing, leasing, repairing, refurbishing, upcycling, or recycling rather than continuing with the traditional take-make-consume-dispose process. This is already happening in pockets across Europe in both the public and private sectors. Research projects such as
BAMB (Buildings As Material Banks), the Atelio Modular Housing System and mySMARTLife have developed techniques, tools and approaches that have been tested either on a lab scale or in pilots.
But we want this to become the new norm, rather than the exception. What is needed now are tools, planning instruments and business cases to bridge the implementation gap from individual pilots to the actual circular and regenerative city.
CIRCuIT – an opportunity to accelerate circular construction in Europe
That is the aim of the Horizon 2020-funded Circular Construction In Regenerative Cities (CIRCuIT), a collaborative project involving 29 ambitious partners across the entire built environment chain in Copenhagen, Hamburg, Helsinki Region and Greater London. Through this project we hope to showcase how circular construction approaches can be scaled and replicated across Europe, to support the creation of regenerative cities.
This will be achieved through a series of demonstrations, case studies, events and other dissemination activities across the four city regions. Among the demonstrations we will be employing cutting edge techniques to maximise the quantity of construction waste that can be reused, developing ways to identify existing building stock that is ripe for transformation and exploring new ways to construct flexible and adaptable buildings.
In addition, we will develop urban planning instruments to support cities in implementing circular construction solutions, develop a web-based data and information platform and set up a knowledge sharing structure.
Engagement is also key to the success and legacy of CIRCuIT. Each of the four cities in CIRCuIT will organise activities such as events, conferences, workshops, hackathons, exhibitions and summer schools, which provide opportunities for citizens, policy makers and people and organisations in the built environment industry to network and learn about circular construction.
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