It is time to transition to an eco-friendly economy
Tuba Kocaturk is affiliated with Geelong Manufacturing Council as an Executive Director Non-Executive.
M. Reza Hosseini does not work for, consult with, hold shares in, or receive funds from any organization or company that could profit from this piece and has not disclosed any affiliations that go beyond their academic position.
Engineering, architecture, and construction Construction, engineering, and architecture employ 1.2 million workers across Australia, contributing 9 percent of the GDP. However, our largest service sector generates around 40% of our landfill waste and is responsible for 18.1 percent of the country’s carbon footprint. The industry must alter its practices quickly for Australia to fulfill its pledges to reduce its emissions in the Paris Agreement.
A circular economy model can aid in solving the environmental problems caused by our built environments – water power, waste and energy infrastructure, transport, and the structures in which we work and live. The circular economy is a circular economic system that includes sharing lease, reuse, fixing, and reusing products and materials to the extent it is feasible.
Circular economy principles have earned acceptance by any level of government in Australia. However, there needs to be moreneeds to be more acknowledgment and implementation. Change in the system is prolonged.
A new industry and university experts study provides a path toward the circular economy. The people who work in the sector identified the top three obstacles: a lack of incentives, specific regulations, and a need for more understanding. The top three facilitators were the development and research of technologies that enable the education of stakeholders and evidence for the value of a circular economy.
Read more: Australia needs construction waste recycling plants — but locals first need to be won over.
The enormous waste created by construction and demolition makes the industry unsustainable.
What are the world’s leaders doing?
The report’s extensive research included real-world observations, surveys, and interviews with key stakeholders. The report gives practical advice for accelerating the transition towards a circular economy by citing examples from the leading companies worldwide.
The first suggestion is to learn from these countries. Most are in Europe.
An excellent example of this is the Netherlands’ ” Cirkelstad.” This national platform connects the key players involved in transitioning to a circular economy within large cities. It offers an archive of successful initiatives, research, policies, guidance, and training.
Cirkelstad emphasizes the importance of broad collaboration, encompassing research organizations. One of the outcomes can be seen in The City Deal initiative. This initiative brings together over 100 participants to create a circular structure that is the standard. They include governments, contractors, housing associations, networks, clients, interest groups, and institutions.
Read more: Buildings used iron from sunken ships centuries ago. Using recycled materials should be business as usual by now.
Rarely do we see this kind of cooperation in Australia. Collaboration between research, government, and business practices is less intense. Our universities are in fierce competition.
Denmark and Sweden’s strict regulations have proved effective in encouraging circular practices. Denmark provides incentives to use second-hand materials like recycled brick. Additionally, it promotes design that makes buildings simple to take apart.
In Sweden, contractors must prioritize using secondary materials for public projects. Contractors are assessed based on their environmental impact.
Read more: A third of our waste comes from buildings. This one’s designed for reuse and cuts emissions by 88%
In Canada, Toronto is notable for its proactive approach. Measures include a cap on upfront carbon emissions for all new city-owned buildings.
Testing beds, pilot programs, and even test beds have proved efficient, too. One illustration is Britain’s Waste House.
Waste House was built using more than 85% of the waste materials from construction and household sites. However, it’s a top-rated energy-efficient construction. It’s an inspiring project for builders and architects to rethink traditional construction methods and embrace circular construction practices.
A large portion of Finland’s circular economy programs is urban and construction. Different policy instruments and incentives promote the utilization of renewable or recycled materials for construction. The modernization of Laakso Hospital in Helsinki is an example of this.
The strategic zoning of public spaces could also be utilized to boost circular economy initiatives. A good example is the repurposing of urban land for purposes like recycling.
Read more: How to make roads with recycled waste and pave the way to a circular economy.
The Brighton Waste House was mainly made from recycled materials.
How do you help Australia develop the circular economy?
Australia was slow to adopt such measures. There are voluntary programs, like Green Star, that have emission caps for structures. However, Australia needs more specific requirements to implement circular economy principles across the built environment industry.