Research shows business case for circularity in built environment

A new report from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, together with Ramboll, articulates the business case for circular buildings.

The construction industry is responsible for the consumption of around half of virgin resources globally and close to 40% of global carbon emissions and solid waste streams.

The report illustrates examples from the industry and benefits of adopting a circular and regenerative building approach, such as reduced costs and emissions and increased asset valuation.

yellow and green excavator on rocky ground during daytime

Phil Kelly, Ramboll’s director for sustainable solutions in the UK, said: ‘The discussions being held at COP26 billed as “humanity’s last best chance to avert climate catastrophe” send a clear signal of the speed and scale of response needed.

‘Building circular approaches into the construction industry can be a game changer in the impact on the planet whilst also bringing new commercial opportunities. With investors increasingly assessing the environmental, social and governance credentials of businesses, and the ongoing development of new economic taxonomies, now is the time to introduce circular approaches.

‘However, the construction industry is still struggling to define, generate and capture the associated value from circular approaches, a clear learning curve is required from the industry.’

Roland Hunziker, director of sustainable buildings and cities at WBCSD, added: ‘We are witnessing the early signs of an exciting new phase for the global construction industry – by including the value of circular solutions into the financial business case of building projects, we can start to quantify the economic benefits (of reduced material use, reduced carbon emissions, increased asset valuation, etc.) and drive decision-making to embrace the true value of the circular economy.’

Based on a literature review, a global survey and several case studies, the report shows emerging evidence of the economic value of circular building solutions, such as:

  • Avoided costs from new land acquisition and landfilling costs by prioritizing existing building land use
  • Increased asset value through accounting for residual material value and reduced deconstruction and landfilling costs
  • Lease price advantage delivered through reductions in energy costs and service charges through circular building design and use of novel business models that are service-centered rather than product-centered
  • Market differential and rapid sales through enhanced branding and local community buy-in

The business case for circular buildings: Exploring the economic, environmental and social value can be accessed here.

In related news, getting the UK’s public services to net zero will require £140bn of government funding by 2035, according to new research by UNISON.

Photo by Gerold Hinzen


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