Last edited 24 Mar 2021

Building Back Better: Circularity and BREEAM



[edit] Introduction

In its work to provide resources for the construction sector, BREEAM has created the online briefing hub, ‘Building Back Better with BREEAM: Supporting the green recovery’. The hub gathers a collection of briefing papers that reflect BREEAM’s position on important issues.

In the area of sustainability and the circular economy (CE), BREEAM recommends resource circularity requirements on energy, water, materials, waste, reuse and recycling as they relate to construction and real estate. Each BREEAM assessment scheme will build upon this position, as outlined in this interactive website, Circularity and BREEAM.

[edit] Defining a circular economy

The concept of the CE goes beyond the three Rs - reduce, reuse and recycle - and aims to maximise total material resource efficiency. CE is a concept in which everything is engineered to be constantly reused or recycled and is in direct contrast to the linear ‘take-make-wasteconcept associated with the disposable economy mindset.

Although the linear economy is associated with job creation based on the continuing demand for new products fabricated from virgin materials, it is also associated with waste creation. In contrast, CE requires rethinking of design, manufacturing, selling, reusing, recycling and consumer ownership to keep resources in use for as long as possible and extract maximum value while producing minimal pollution.

[edit] CE and sustainability

CE in construction and real estate is primarily associated with environmental sustainability. Some circularity initiatives define a scope ranging from operational carbon emissions and local economy to occupant health and local biodiversity. However, it can be difficult to determine the distinctions between circularity and sustainability.

Within BREEAM, CE relates most closely to resource use and supply chains through practical solutions and holistic performance assessment. Practical solutions that incorporate circularity principles are tangible, specific measures that projects can take to improve circularity and improve asset performance (documented through processes such as life cycle assessment, energy and water modelling).

Examples of ‘more with less’ practical solutions include:

Examples of enabled reuse include:

[edit] CE and sourcing

Another practical solution within CE relates to behaviours around procurement. Adopting responsible and ethical sourcing practices may involve a degree of uncertainty, but there are some responsible/ethical sourcing certification schemes designed to reduce unknown supply chain factors.

There are a number of valid initiatives, but BREEAM urges the specification of products with certification sourcing that has been recognised by BREEAM.

Responsible sourcing should include design, construction and in-use life cycle stages.

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

[edit] External resources

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