Resource Efficiency & Circularity

Leading a paradigm shift for the built environment

We need a new construction paradigm, where materials are used over and over again, being returned to the technosphere or, safely, to the biosphere.

Buildings are responsible for one third of global greenhouse gas emissions, with much of their life cycle impacts stemming from the embodied impacts of building materials. Ecosystem and biodiversity degradation from human activity is attributed ⅓ to the wrong use and overuse of energy, and ⅔ to the wrong use and overuse of materials. The construction sector is responsible for almost 50% of raw materials use and generates 40% of overall emissions and solid waste stream.

Here’s where redesign begins in earnest, where we stop trying to be less bad and we start figuring out how to be good. William McDonough

The design of materials, products and built assets must keep in mind durability and flexibility of use beyond their first lifecycle. A fundamental argument in favour of this new paradigm is the reduction of embodied carbon, which is paramount for the reduction of the overall carbon footprint of the industry. Embodied water and energy must follow suit.

According to the 2022 Circularity Gap Report, with a current consumption of “half a trillion tonnes of virgin materials, our world is only 8.6% circular”. A tall order is required of the built environment to proactively lead the paradigm shift that is required for a more circular world. 

How do we make this paradigm shift? Explore the ideas on resource efficiency and circularity below with real-world examples of the changes at scale that across the construction industry.