Reducing consumption by half

Arup and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation have launched a practical toolkit designed to bring a circular economy for buildings into the mainstream, future-proofing assets as sustainability policies redraw the real estate landscape.

The built environment sector is a major consumer of natural resources and is currently responsible for almost half of the consumption of raw materials, and around 40 per cent of global CO2 emissions.

To date, the building industry has been almost solely focused on energy efficiency, but the energy transition is only part of the challenge it faces. Since almost half of global greenhouse gas emissions come from embodied carbon emitted through the production and operational processes, a circular economy that is designed to eliminate waste and pollution, circulate products and materials, and regenerate nature will help tackle climate change.

The Circular Buildings Toolkit seeks to minimise waste by keeping products and materials in use for longer - from the start of the design process. Aligned with industry standard planning methods like the RIBA Plan of Work, it can help owners, investors and developers ready their portfolios for the influx of sustainability regulation, limiting the risk of potential write-downs.

The toolkit has already been used by Arup and Futur2K during the design and construction of a prototype for a new circular building system (ADPT) in Essen, Germany to be unveiled in May. Examples like Futur2K show how the toolkit can help industry move from adopting a circular approach on a component basis towards an integrated approach, unlocking new economic models that address the whole value chain of buildings.

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