WBCSD Discusses First Step Toward Measuring Circular Buildings
Changing from a linear to a circular way of doing business could help reduce emissions from the built environment in a big way. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has released a new paper that explains what companies need to measure, how to measure it, and how to use the results to figure out how circular a building is.
37% of all global emissions and more than half of all global resource use come from the built environment. By reducing waste and pollution, extending the life of products and materials, and regenerating natural systems, switching to a circular economy could make the built environment more sustainable.
While the sector is striving to become more circular, a standardised approach to measuring circularity in buildings is required; otherwise, industry-wide adoption of circular practices will be hindered.
Using the WBCSD's Circular Transition Indicators as a foundation, the new paper is the first step toward making a unified framework for measuring circular buildings. It lists the most important things to think about when doing so.
To make it easier to figure out how circular a building is, the paper's authors suggest starting with an analysis of the different layers and using consistent terminology.
The authors also suggest that companies look at both qualitative and quantitative data when measuring the circularity of a building, as well as circular principles like extending a building's life, making it easy to take apart, adapting it to new situations, and being flexible during the design phase.
Measurement of circular inflows and outflows, as well as monitoring the type of material, the percentage of reused and recycled materials, and end-of-life recovery, are other important topics covered in the paper. In this regard, benchmarks, standards, and key performance indicators should be established or upgraded where they already exist.
In addition to closing the loop on material flows, the authors suggest measuring the inflows and outflows of water and energy and keeping a close eye on the carbon life cycle. This is to ensure that circular evaluations don't replace environmental ones but instead add to them.
Roland Hunziker, Director, Built Environment, WBCSD, said: “Businesses must embrace a circular economy to achieve a nature-positive and net-zero built environment. But the building industry hasn't yet devised a standard way to measure how circular solutions affect buildings. This paper provides an important breakthrough in this field. Its conclusions and suggestions can help people in charge of building projects come up with business plans that will help increase circularity. We encourage all built environment stakeholders to join us in the next steps of developing a shared framework for measuring circularity in buildings.“
During an open consultation period from December 15, 2022, to February 24, 2023, companies and peer organisations are invited to share their thoughts on the approach and key considerations discussed in this paper. Please click here to tell them what you think.