The construction industry is responsible for between 33% and 40% of global resource consumption and a similarly high proportion of waste. Reducing the amount of waste requires reuse and recycling, part of a “circular economy.” This article offers a snapshot of circular construction efforts in Europe, motivated by an EU-wide circular economy action plan created in 2015 and updated in 2020. The European Commission will release a plan for sustainable built environment strategy later this year that will establish recycled content requirements and, potentially, revise material recovery targets.
Designers should be taking actions that include (1) using less material by refurbishing existing buildings whenever possible; (2) favoring non-virgin and renewable materials; (3) ensuring materials have a life beyond their initial purpose by designing for disassembly; and (4) selecting materials with high capacity for reuse or recycling like wood or steel.
One Click LCA has a building circularity tool that allows designers to measure and visualize the circularity of their design by tracking resource flow into and out of a project.