WorldGBC launches guide to accelerate regenerative built environments

World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) and its network of over 75 green building councils are launching the Circular Built Environment Playbook – a critical guide for the building and construction sector around the world to accelerate the adoption of circular economy and resource efficiency principles.

The principles of the circular economy can help us to achieve global climate targets – from minimising the extraction of materials and using more efficient designs, to optimising nature-based solutions and closing material loops at the end of a building’s lifecycle.

The use and waste of materials and products is trending in a dangerously unsustainable direction, with latest estimates showing that the world is only 7.2% circular, meaning over 90% of everything we make is discarded after use, it stated.

“Furthermore, in 2022, a year’s worth of biological resources were used in just seven months – that means currently we consume 75% more than the earth is able to replenish each year,” said WorldGBC in the report.

“With our cities producing an estimated 70% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, and consuming almost half the resources extracted globally, our sector holds a significant portion of the responsibility,” it added.

In ‘The Circular Built Environment Playbook’ WorldGBC acknowledges the essential role of the circular economy in tackling the global environmental crisis; whilst providing an unparalleled opportunity to regenerate resources and accelerate socio-economic development.

The Playbook has been developed with the support of WorldGBC’s global programme partners – Brightworks Sustainability, Foster + Partners, Vinzero and Kingspan – as well as technical partners, WSP, CBRE.

Circularity is fundamental for humanity to thrive alongside the natural environment, and within planetary boundaries. Through this playbook we hope to make the complex principles of the circular economy easy to understand for every actor in the built environment.

“We have mapped out more than 20 strategies of implementing circular design, construction and operation for the built environment, illustrated with best practice case studies from all over the world,” stated WorldGBC in the report.

All stakeholders must be ‘circular ready’ and lead the sector towards circularity becoming the new business-as-usual.

Every actor in the building and construction supply chain must take action and help the transition – cross-sector collaboration will be key to overcome barriers towards a circular future.

WorldGBC pointed out that its network aspires to see leadership from all governments and businesses.

“A circular economy is an essential part of the sustainability solution providing a foundation for future policy change and business innovation,” it added.

WorldGBC CEO Cristina Gamboa said: “It is clear that if we want to secure a future for our planet and people, then we cannot keep going on this path of consumption and waste. That’s why our network is taking action to increase awareness and accessibility of circular economy solutions, by guiding all stakeholders towards sustainable, circular decision-making.”

“The need for a circular built environment has never been more important and our Circularity Accelerator programme is shining a light on the solutions available,” she observed.

Jona Byskata, Head of EU Public Affairs, Kingspan, said: “Circularity in the buildings sector is a very broad topic, and requires collaboration across all stakeholders. The Accelerator partnership allows such discussions to develop to help set future priorities where the environmental impacts matter most.”

Dorota Bacal, Sustainability and Innovation Lead, VinZero, said: “You can only improve what you measure” has become the mantra of our industry. Data-driven decision making completely revolutionises the sustainability outcomes for the companies we work with.”

“Data insights can significantly boost operational efficiencies, improve processes and reduce waste, whilst delivering cost, raw material consumption and carbon savings,” he stated.

Chris Trott, Partner Head of Sustainability, Foster + Partners, said: “Adopting circularity in the built environment is essential to achieve a regenerative balance, by facilitating the decarbonisation of the industry, limiting finite raw materials extraction and waste production all while staying within planetary boundaries.”

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