On the basis of UKGBC’s publication System Enablers for a Circular Economy, the UKGBC Circular Economy Forum has reflected on the importance and role of circular economy design principles, its challenges, and how it relates to other enablers for a circular built environment.
Circular economy design principles have been largely developed but still we find these concepts difficult to implement. For the designer to implement circular economy concepts there may be a need to change in how we structure our projects, how we procure the materials and how process and classify reclaimed materials. Rather than looking at this enabler in isolation, we need to take more of a systems approach, taking into account other enablers for circularity as well.
As a forum, we identified three key barriers that need to be overcome so that the circular design principles can be embraced across the industry. Currently, there is a lack of communication and early engagement which hinders the implementation of circular concepts. It has been frequently stated that the earlier we implement these concepts, the more we get out of these processes. Leading on from that, time and logistics usually force circularity out of our projects, with the impression that circularity increases programme. By understanding the concepts further and allowing for these processes to be baked into the programme will ensure an appropriate amount of time is allowed to ensure materials are retained and reused. The final area that we have addressed is the lack of storage and information of reclaimed materials, which has been underdeveloped and allows for little understanding of appropriate materials available at early design concepts. By looking at the constraints of these concepts we hope to outline the issues and possible solutions to ensure design concepts are implemented and circularity is increased in projects.