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Government seen as important driving party towards circular construction industry

Rotterdam, March 14, 2019 – Circularity is a hot topic within the European construction industry at the moment, and a lot of steps towards a more circular construction economy have been taken already. Examples are the use of bio-based materials such as wood, hemp or even certain types of mold, or new cooperations between different market parties that work in a new way and have a non-traditional approach towards the building process. The big question is how long it will take before we will come to a fully circular construction economy. On a European level, architects think this will take at least another twenty years, and to come there we will need governmental stimulation. Currently, the first circular initiatives in projects come from private and commercial building owners, but architects are convinced that the influence of the government is necessary to change the current mindset, and that they will be one of the market parties that will drive circularity in construction most. In the European Architectural Barometer, USP Marketing Consultancy has asked 1,400 architects in eight European countries about their expectations regarding the development of circular and sustainable construction methods.

Circularity currently driven by building owners

Over a long period there have been thoughts on a circular construction economy, but the past year this is rapidly becoming more important. On a European level, we see that in a third of architectural projects there is a principal behind the project who is demanding a form of circularity. And while in the beginning sustainability and circularity was still much about the use of bio-based materials, this is now evolving into a more mature concept and a new way of arranging the construction process. Architects now indicate that circularity is very much about the re-use of materials at the end of the lifecycle of a building, and secondly it is about minimising the waste that is produced at the building site.

Currently, it is mainly private and commercial building owners asking for circularity in their projects. But architects say that if we really want to move towards a successful circular construction industry, there is a very strong need to change the current mindset within the industry.

Important role for governmental parties

The construction industry is known for being a conservative and traditional industry. Architects therefore feel that the government is the most important party that will drive circularity in construction projects. Governments have the power and ability to take measures and also assert on these measures that could speed up the process towards a fully circular construction industry. The question is how long it will take before measures will be taken on a larger scale. As with other trends such as Building Information Modeling (Q4 2017 topic), it can be expected that when governments will be fully involved, the adoption of circularity in the industry will speed up. Governments can simply demand certain ways of building and can ask all parties involved to work accordingly, as has happened with BIM before.

When will the industry become fully circular?

At this moment it is thus still mainly the building owners that are driving the first steps in the process of implementing circularity in construction, and government is not strongly driving this trend by demanding it within their own projects. Therefore it seems that many architects are far from convinced that a fully circular construction economy will take place in the near future, as the vast majority feels that it will take at least twenty more years before we can speak of a fully circular construction economy.


About the European Architectural Barometer

The European Architectural Barometer is a study by USP Marketing Consultancy, which is based on 5,400 successful interviews with architects in eight European countries annually. Every quarter, a report is published covering a specific topic like BIM, prefabrication, media orientation of architects, and many more. The report also provides future building volume predictions, based on the orderbook development of architects and other economic indicators in the construction sector.