Circular economy: An opportunity for the construction industry
Disruptive innovators are adopting new business models using circular economy principles and transforming established markets with incredible speed. The application of circular economy to the construction industry requires a systems-thinking approach – one that gives an understanding of the whole building lifecycle and the construction value chain, or in other words, understanding the wider context in which development takes place. Only once the value chain is fully understood, the opportunities of the circular economy can be realised.
Benefits of moving to a circular economy
The market for a circular economy is growing and it is estimated that over the next ten years, this will boost economic growth by up to 4%. By adopting circular economy business models, the focus will shift to sourcing sustainably, maintaining material productivity over the lifecycle of developments and reducing losses of non-renewable materials. This will produce financial, social and environmental benefits.
The circular economy will help businesses save on their raw material cost and waste management costs. Reducing the volume of waste going to landfill would result in substantial financial benefits for businesses. With little or no waste to landfill, environments will be enriched by biological nutrients reintroduced into the biosphere through composting and biodigesters.
Growth will be decoupled from resource extraction due to closed loops of technical components and an increase of sustainable renewable materials. Fewer resources will be extracted, thus reducing the impact on the climate.
Several enabling factors will be needed to maximise the value from a circular economy. Generally, these fall into three categories – design, information and collaboration. As a result, additional value will be created through the operation, with benefits for the asset value and waste production – as outlined below.