Following the launch of the Copenhagen decision-maker group in August, Grimshaw Architects and London Waste and Recycling Board (LWARB) hosted the first London Urban Decision-Maker Forum (UDMF) on Monday 28 September 2020. The network comprises of representatives from private and public sectors involved with the built environment in London including; ARUP, Modomo, Max Fordham, Greater London Authority, and several London local authorities. Over the project lifecycle the Forum will explore ideas and co-develop tools to steer the construction industry towards a circular economy.
The meeting opened with an overview of CIRCuIT and the current landscape of designing for disassembly/deconstruction (DfD), flexibility and adaptability in the UK and London. The group heard that as the government and industry wake up to the importance of addressing the environmental impact of construction, circular economy concepts such as DfD have been gaining more prominence in building design. However, the industry has been slow to change, and new practices and methods have been generally met with scepticism and fear of unknown risks and high costs. While some projects have demonstrated various solutions, there is a clear need for more rapid uptake, which cross-sectoral and multi-organisational efforts, such as the UDMF group, could support.
Peter Swallow, Sustainability Manager at Grimshaw Architects and the chair of the group, posed two questions to the group:
Firstly, what can we do to embed design for deconstruction and flexibility from Day 1?
Secondly, can we develop tools that can help facilitate the thinking and capacity of design teams to implement circularity?
With these guiding questions, the group began identifying and dissecting some of the key barriers and opportunities in implementing circular construction across the city, out of which emerged a number of themes:
· The role of policy in creating an environment for circularity in construction
· ‘Saving carbon now’ – a focus on reusing and recycling existing resources
· Reconfiguring ownership of buildings and materials
· Engaging with ‘councils as developers’
· Upskilling and education or re-education in industry
· Changing perception of materials and aesthetics
· Making the value proposition to clients
· Understanding the impact of emerging and future socio-economic trends
The discussion stimulated ideas of ways to address the themes:
· Developing road maps and guidance for planning teams
· An architecture pattern book on designing for circularity
· Working with policy-makers to implement legislation and regulation that can steer the construction industry towards a circular economy
· Being proactive in spotting opportunities for circular economy in emerging and future trends
These themes and ideas will steer future discussions of how the group can co-develop and provide expertise on tools and roads maps that can enable circular construction in London. The next meeting is scheduled to be held in January 2021.
One of CIRCuIT’s key focus areas is Governance and tools, which aims to develop recommendations and tools to initiate change at system level. If you are involved with incorporating circular construction in policy and in practice and are interested in being involved with the UDMF, please get in contact with Ingrina Shieh, firstname.lastname@example.org.