Buildings are massive raw materials and energy guzzlers. The construction and operation of buildings accounts for 37% of global greenhouse gas emissions currently. To make matters worse, around 95% of the value of construction materials is lost as buildings decay into obsolescence and then demolition. This is largely due to the ‘take, make, dispose’ model that is currently at the heart of the real estate and construction sectors. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

There is growing support and interest in a better methodology. We all want to design out waste and pollution. And we all want buildings and assets that keep products and materials in use for longer. The question, until now, has been “how”.

Arup has developed the Circular Buildings Toolkit (CBT), with our partners the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, to help designers, construction clients and asset owners to understand how to adopt this vastly more sustainable way of producing the built environment. 

Circular buildings toolkit video cover
This video explores four key circular economy principles related to the application of the Circular Buildings Toolkit. ‘Building only what you need’, ‘build with the right materials’, materials which are low-carbon and renewable; ‘build efficiently’ and cut waste across the supply chain; and ‘build for long-term value’, making sure that we plan for the building’s entire lifecycle and recyclability.

How it helps

The toolkit is a set of strategies and measures that can help you approach this systemic shift with confidence.

  1. 1

    Design and build for longer term use

    At the start we identify the improvements in productivity and space utilisation required. Health and wellbeing targets can be set too, before specifying the technology and data services necessary. This is also the moment to define the operational changes required to meet an organisation’s particular net zero goals.

  2. 2

    Develop a new materials mindset

    The CBT helps you to reduce the use of virgin and non-renewable materials. It also offers pathways for lower emission materials that avoid pollutants.

  3. 3

    Learn from completed projects

    CBT contains a library of completed circular building projects that prove the practicality and value of the whole ethos. You can also share your own circular building projects once you register with the tool.