The built environment sector has been urged to follow industry best practice to adopt sustainable principles and step up circular economy adoption.
The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) and its network of more than 75 Green Building Councils have launched the Circular Built Environment Playbook explaining the benefits of developing a circular economy and reducing resource consumption in the construction industry.
The report suggests the principles of the circular economy can help to achieve global climate targets – from minimising the extraction of materials and using more efficient designs, to optimising nature-based solutions and closing material loops at the end of a building’s life cycle.
It presents strategies for the built environment to reduce its resource consumption and features best practice case studies for developers to follow.
The use and waste of materials and products is trending in “a dangerously unsustainable direction, with latest estimates showing that the world is only 7.2% circular, meaning over 90% of everything we make is discarded after use” states the WorldGBC.
In 2022, a year’s worth of biological resources was used in just seven months – that means the world currently consumes 75% more than the Earth can replenish each year, the report notes. With cities producing an estimated 70% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, and consuming almost half the resources extracted globally, the built environment sector holds “a significant portion of the responsibility”, says the WorldGBC.
In The Circular Built Environment Playbook WorldGBC says a circular economy is “fundamental for humanity to thrive alongside the natural environment, and within planetary boundaries”.
The playbook sets out to “make the complex principles of the circular economy easy to understand for every actor in the built environment” and to map out “more than 20 strategies to use when implementing circular design approaches across all building stages, and the report presents best-practice case studies from across the global built environment”.
The World GBC argues that all stakeholders “must be ‘circular-ready’ and lead the sector towards circularity becoming the new business-as-usual” and “every actor in the building and construction supply chain must take action and help the transition – cross-sector collaboration will be key to overcome barriers towards a circular future”.
Cristina Gamboa, WorldGBC CEO, said: “If we want to secure a future for our planet and people, then we cannot keep going on this path of consumption and waste. That’s why our network is taking action to increase awareness and accessibility of circular economy solutions, by guiding all stakeholders towards sustainable, circular decision-making. The need for a circular built environment has never been more important and our Circularity Accelerator programme is shining a light on the solutions available.”
Alan King, MD of Syntegra, said: “We work with all out clients across the built environment sector to find sustainable solutions, recognising the significant impact this line of work has on global environmental issues.
“It is right that the sector takes the lead in promoting the benefits of the circular economy and resource efficiency. In many situations, the greener options are more cost effective for companies to implement so there are additional benefits to their bottom line too.
“Others in society look to developments in the built environment for examples of good practice so it is appropriate that this encouragement has been given by the WorldGBC.”