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Circular economy programme for the built environment launched

The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has today launched a new circular economy programme for the built environment. The programme will include a series of live experiments over two years, testing the application of circular principles on real estate assets and construction projects. 

The work has been made possible as a result of the support of The Crown Estate, who will support activities as a programme partner across the two years. In addition, the first year of the programme is being sponsored by UKGBC members Clarion Housing Group, ISG, HS2, Telford Homes and TFT. 

UKGBC will be working in collaboration with supporting organisations working on the circular economy and the built environment including BRE Trust, Circular Economy Club, Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Forum for the Future, Green Construction Board, London Waste and Recycling Board, RIBA, RICS and the Supply Chain Sustainability School.

The programme will address two areas frequently cited as barriers to the practical implementation of circular economy principles. A task group will be set up to consider how organisations can specify reuse of materials and share resources between external projects while ensuring technical integrity, liability and legal issues are covered to reduce project risk. A second task group will look at what requirements clients and planners can set within their development briefs, planning requirements, procurement documents and contractual clauses to ensure circular principles are applied effectively to developments.

UKGBC members will be invited to participate in a number of focus groups to help the task groups understand the opportunities and issues presented by the circular economy. After this initial phase, the team will target ways in which the group can make practical interventions on live projects and share learning to aid the sector in adopting circular principles at scale.

Anna Surgenor, senior sustainability advisor at UKGBC said: “The circular economy represents a huge opportunity for businesses to take a lead in embedding sustainability right across their operations. A circular approach allows organisations to maximise the efficiency and efficacy of the system they operate within. This is about far more than just material reuse and recycling, it is about a fundamental shift in how businesses approach risk and value.  

“UKGBC’s circular economy programme is going to bring stakeholders from right across the built environment value chain together to think practically about the circular economy. We will work with our members to apply circular principles to live projects and share learnings from this process across the wider industry.”

Jane Wakiwaka, sustainability manager at The Crown Estate,  said: “The Crown Estate are pleased to be partnering with UKGBC on the circular economy programme which aligns with our aspirations to drive circular principles through our developments. This two-year programme will be an important step forward in finding practical solutions for construction and real estate projects. We hope these outcomes will be a catalyst for change across the wider built environment.”