Europe needs policies for circular economies in construction and buildings

16 May 2024 17:17

Brussels - Researchers argue that the European Union must take action to ensure that more buildings are sustainable. They believe the CircularB Project could leverage data, technology, complexity and behavioral science, and other tools to build more sustainable buildings and renovate older buildings to boost circularity.

Europe should adopt more financial incentives and policies to enforce practices that expand circular economies in the construction and building maintenance, according to researchers writing in the journal Nature on May 14.

Entitled “Comparisons of stakeholders' influences, inter-relationships, and obstacles for circular economy implementation on existing building sectors,” the researcher’s article focuses on the CircularB Project, an initiative funded by the European Cooperation for Science and Technology that aims to standardize guidelines for circular buildings.

The CircularB Project would reduce European buildings’ greenhouse gas emissions, which cause climate change. The project would leverage “multi-scale circular perspectives” that account for materials, components, assets, and built environments; digital and data-driven solutions and complexity science; behavioral science; and marketable circular solutions to improve European urban design. 

The article’s authors found that buildings account for 39 percent of global carbon emissions, consume 40 percent of the world’s energy, generate 35 percent of the European Union’s waste, and consume around 50 percent of fossil fuels, building materials, and other extracted materials.

At the same time, as Europe hopes to emit net-zero emissions by 2050, demand for building resources could triple in that period. The researchers noted that Europeans needed to build new buildings more sustainably and increase their rates of renovating buildings to reach this goal. At present, Europeans are renovating only around 1.3 percent of their buildings annually.

“Circular economy is the global challenge and not just a single country can resolve the climate issue without the cooperation of other countries,” wrote the article’s authors.

The researchers work at universities in the United Kingdom, Germany, Turkey, Finland, and Latvia. ce/jd

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