Construction & circular economy

The key areas of the OCCE

  • Present the challenges for the application of the circular model in the construction sector: limit waste, reduce energy and resource consumption
  • Create and enhance sustainable building materials;
  • Promote buildings and sustainable indoor environment;
  • Consider the benefits and challenges of smartcities

The multiple challenges of construction for a sustainable economy

The circular model represents a strategic element of European industries at a time when production and consumption structures are changing considerably. The stakes are political, strategic, economic but above all environmental. Given the harmonization of measures to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, the European Union (EU) will inevitably deepen its regulations to ensure the ecological transition. The construction industry will not be spared. An opportunity to foster the resilience of the European economy in the face of the increasing scarcity of certain raw materials. Especially since construction and demolition are among the priority sectors in which the EU wishes to strengthen research, innovation and investment.

Today, the building sector is one of the sectors that consumes the most raw materials. Studies have shown that 40% of the world's waste comes from the building sector. In addition, 36% of total energy consumption comes from construction.

These numbers can change by combining ideas, deep thinking, expertise for new solutions and obligations. There is plenty of evidence:

  • A major part of the materials used in the construction sector are non-dangerous and can therefore be recycled and recovered;
  • According to the United Nations Environment Program, this is the sector with the greatest potential for reducing greenhouse gases. Therefore, drastic measures can allow reduce up to 84 gigatonnes of CO2 (UNEP, 2016);
  • The European Commission estimates that global energy efficiency measures could allow savings estimated between 280 and 410 billion euros on energy expenditure. Adopting circular practices in the construction industry is therefore beneficial at all levels;
  • In addition, there are the social benefits of a green, healthier and more comfortable environment

European regulations and standards.

Many legislative frameworks have already been adopted to move towards an ecological transition in the construction industry. We find, for example, the European Commission's energy transition law of August 18, 2015. The latter has set the objective of "recovering 70% of waste from the building and public works sector in 2020 in the form of material." This could be done by recycling, reuse or backfilling. Added to this is the Circular Economy Action Plan specifying product sustainability and reducing waste. The measures will then focus, among other things, on the eco-design of building materials, but also on providing more sustainable choices for consumers.

From a linear flow to a circular flow from the construction industry.

From design to demolition, today's buildings are essentially based on a linear model and therefore unsustainable. Sources significant waste and energy consumers, the current findings of the BTP are unequivocal in Europe:

- The sector creates 2,652 billion tonnes of waste;

- one person extracts around 36 kg of raw materials (sand, clay or ore, ..) per day of which at least 45% is used in the sector construction;

- for low-energy housing, the energy required for construction represents between 40 and 60% of its energy consumption over a period of 60 years.

Buildings and infrastructure are, however, an integral part of the environment and evolve according to needs and know-how. he therefore belongs to the Man of them rethink in order to adapt them to current challenges and emergency environmental. What's more, standards are readjusting, lifestyles are changing and technology offers more and more opportunities.

The circular economy is a solution that will allow significant savings in raw materials and lower carbon impact buildings ensuring their sustainability. The alternatives responding to sustainability requirements are many. There are models today design limiting waste at each stage of construction in prioritizing materials with a longer life cycle. We find also multi-material solutions which allow to anticipate the recycling of components and their reuse. On the other hand, it is essential to ensure the adaptation and versatility of constructions (eg by dismantling systems).

Before construction, buildings can be thought out beforehand and designed to ensure their low carbon impact and their lifespan lying down. Indeed, “sustainable” buildings use less energy and of materials and are healthier and more comfortable places to live for their occupants. Having a low environmental impact, buildings "Durable" are relatively inexpensive to manage and have a shelf life lying down.

We must emphasize the importance of harmonizing the measurements at each construction stage in order to identify the actors in order to compensate their potential loss and profit. This approach will help address the international sourcing of raw materials and promoting circuits short. The local job market will also be revitalized by the same opportunity.

Smartcity and circular model.

The situation of Smartcities (“smart cities”) should also be approached in order to know how to combine technologies and sustainability. The closure of the flow in the construction sector should not be to do at the expense of the real needs of humans on the one hand and the environment on the other hand. Obviously, there is no standard model of the city of the future. The concerns will not be the same for a urban or rural space for example. Innovation and co-creation must come together here!

Key OCCE Proposals for the Circular Economy and the Construction Industry

- Establish a sustainability performance grid for construction contractors;

- Co-create a label for building materials sustainable;

- Integrate sustainability criteria into tenders public infrastructure;

- Encourage the creation of an eco-responsible indoor environment and sustainable by integrating the criterion of circular economy in public procurement via tenders relating to the construction of establishments hospital or public.

- Develop recycling channels (plaster - materials infinitely recyclable, wood, aluminum etc.) and increase the number of collection points in the construction sector.

- Ensure better management of site waste by the permanent or even standardized realization of a diagnosis of waste. This will allow considerable savings to be made;

- Reinforce skills and professionalization actors by carrying out a diagnosis of the sustainability of constructions and the processes used;

- Readjust standards and standards housing with circular principles;

- Ensure a qualitative optimization of materials from their design in order to reduce wastage associated with bad quality. You should know that often valuable resources are not properly identified, separated and therefore valued.

- Provide storage facilities for waste not valued according to their dangerousness

- Initiate reflection in the creation of new resources from raw resources (eg Bricks, made of plastic recycled)

- Encourage deep thinking to speed up the construction of smart cities , capable of regenerating (e.g. zero-carbon buildings; carbonization of carbonaceous materials during the life of the building)

- Ensure the adaptability of buildings over time: design buildings so that they can have multiple uses by being easily convertible (flexible structures)

The OCCE focuses on the contribution of each person in the transition economic. We are committed to collecting and grouping your opinions on the subject for the emergence of new solutions:

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Construction & Circular Economy - Development of Smart Cities of Water
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Construction &  Circular Economy - Development of Smart Cities
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