Mace calls for London to become circular construction capital of the world

A new report by Mace calls for London to become circular construction capital of the world.

Construction and demolition activities generated 1.54 million tonnes of identifiable waste in the City of London over a decade – equivalent to 2.7 tonnes per worker in the City – and only 10% of that waste is recycled within the construction industry, according to a new report published today [Thursday 26th October].

Mace’s ‘Closing the Circle’ report states that across Greater London, more than 13.8 million tonnes of construction waste – worth £1.25bn – could be saved over the next 10 years through the adoption of circular economy principles. It could also save 11 million tonnes of CO₂ in a decade, equivalent to 3.5% of the UK’s annual emissions. 

The international consultancy and construction company is calling for London to become the circular construction capital of the world, as it recommends that circular economy principles are incentivised and embedded across the building lifecycle. 

Its latest report looks at the true potential of reusing and recycling construction materials – instead of allowing it to go to waste. 

Despite making significant changes to construction practices to reduce carbon emissions across the sector, the construction industry globally still accounts for 40% of carbon emissions and over 50% of raw material use.

With global cities responsible for the vast majority of construction waste, the report focuses on the opportunity for London - and specifically for the City of London. The report claims that the UK capital is the ideal place to build the world’s first true circular construction economy due to its highly innovative construction firms, developers and occupiers with a keen interest in sustainability and with planning authorities already promoting circularity practices.

A circular construction economy is one where the use of resources and waste is minimised through ‘reducing, reusing and recycling’ – targeting a reduction in the use of raw materials, and finding new and innovative methods to recycle and directly reuse waste materials where possible. 

In a bid to reduce the use of virgin materials used in construction, the report has made several recommendations:

-Develop physical and virtual ‘circularity material banks’ that enable smaller companies to take advantage of materials produced elsewhere in the industry. 

-Introduce ‘materials passports’ that track the source of materials within the supply chain and enable easier reuse, an approach that digitally catalogues the materials and components used within a building to promote easier reuse at the end of the building’s lifespan.

-Bring industry and government together to build a credible circularity accreditation scheme to allow clients, investors and contractors to demonstrate the value of their commitment to circularity.  

James Low, global head of responsible business at Mace, said: “We must be able to deliver zero embodied carbon buildings and infrastructure within our lifetimes, and we believe that the transition to a circular economy is amongst the most important innovations and system changes required to achieve that.

“This requires the entire industry to come together to provide the information, products, construction practices, and behaviours required to realise the potential carbon savings associated with a more circular model in London over the next decade.” 

Ged Simmonds, managing director of commercial offices at Mace Construct, said: “This thought-provoking report clearly illustrates how London can be the circularity capital of the world, a title I am certain all Londoners would be keen for it to hold.

“In the UK capital we have a unique ecosystem where construction companies, planning authorities and building occupiers are all coming together on a global issue. By adopting and mandating circularity across our built environment projects we can make significant and meaningful steps in our shared pursuit of a sustainable world.” 

The company has also installed a circularity exhibition in its global headquarters, in the City of London, to practically  demonstrate ways to embrace the circular economy within the construction sector. 

Earlier this year, Mace published its first green buildings report ‘Transform and Renew’ which dealt with the need to retrofit non-domestic properties in the UK. 

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