The necessity for inventiveness – the circular economy

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BSRIA has jointly hosted an event with ECA – Engaging the Circular Economy. This event showcased the potential of an innovative regenerative system that will change the way construction and building services currently operates regarding refurbishments, new build and maintenance of buildings. A salient takeaway was that society realises that it needs to change its thinking and modus operand (1). But is more awareness of the impact of not doing so needed? 

It was held on Wednesday 23 May at the Victory Services Club in London.

Estimates suggest the global population will reach close to nine billion by 2030. This places unprecedented pressure on natural resources to meet future consumer demand. If we are to meet the demands of a growing consumer base and not destroy the planet in the process – we need to embrace the circular economy as an innovative business model for all industries. 

The circular economy, with the simple mantra of make – use – return – make, will impact every element of the built environment. 

“You’ve got to be holistic and agile to change!” Ant Wilson MBE, director, at AECOM, said, opening the event with this mantra saying “easy wins” are exemplar and should be “future proofed”. The circular economy isn’t a “linear economy” – industry needs to keep using the same – and less – materials for as long as it can in any way and at every stage and more effectively. We can have less to live on. Dame Ellen MacArthur said “we should be doing more with less resources!”.

Wilson cited Building Revolutions by David Cheshire (RIBA, 2016) which makes a compelling case for a profound rethink: refurb and reclaiming – driven by cost: "buildings as material banks, energy generators and service providers: the future of architecture and construction will play a key role in the transition to a circular economy”.