1) Eliminate waste and pollution
Waste is the result of decisions made at the design stage. Therefore, it is essential to change our mindset when it comes to design and consider waste generation a design flaw.
The construction sector plays a crucial role in implementing a circular economy as it is responsible for considerable resource use and waste generation. To prevent our planet's resources from running dry, we need to change our consumption habits and production methods radically. The circular economy can be explained using three main principles from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation:
2) Circulate products and materials (at their highest value)
It is important that the products and materials we produce remain within our economy. Therefore, ways of their reuse, repair, or recycle must be widely available.
3) Regenerate nature
The circular economy plays in favour of nature in multiple ways by moving from extraction to regeneration, for instance, by reducing the amount of raw materials needed to be mined, thereby returning more land to nature.
Currently, a few of the most significant barriers to implementing circular economy principles in the construction sector are:
- lack of legal frameworks regulating the reusing of materials,
- lack of data on material flows and the quality of materials,
- lack of knowledge of circular design.
There are several initiatives to solve the above issues. The first example is the criteria for circular buildings created by FutureBuild, stating that a circular building must consist of at least 50% of reused and reusable components. The criteria also cover other aspects, like, for example, design-for-adaptability. More information can be found here (FutureBuilt kriterier for sirkulære bygg; in Norwegian).
The second example is the EU's set of guidelines for legal and technical stakeholders and policy-makers in the construction sector on how to implement circular economy principles, which can be found here.
Does it cost more to renovate than to build new? Answers to this and other questions can be found in GBC Norway's publications Tenk deg om før du river (Think before tearing down; in Norwegian).
Guidelines and business tools for companies in the construction sector on how to implement circular solutions in their activities can be found in Nordic Circular Economy Playbook 2.0.