A Future-Proof Built Environment

The fact that the engineering and construction industries are the world's most important consumers of raw materials offers an incredible opportunity. The scale of these industries, however, also poses significant challenges: how do you bend a conservative industry of this magnitude towards new, future-proof, circular practices?

case study
Giving buildings a second life – circularity in the build environment and construction sector


A Future-Proof Built Environment” is a report co-launched by ABN AMRO and Circle Economy. The facts are clear: Currently, 40% of all extracted minerals worldwide are used in the built environment. Luckily the sector has started to wake up and some companies are now leading the way. This report highlights real-life and practical examples on how to rethink the way we create the built environment that surrounds us. The report takes a systematic view on the sector, identifying clear levers for circular change. Circle Economy and ABN Amro now published all the insights gained during the built of the first fully circular building in Amsterdam’s financial district: ABN AMRO’s CIRCL pavilion.

CIRCL was planned and built as an example of “how to walk the circular talk”. The philosophy and ambition was: “doing nothing is no longer an option and that now is the time to create inspiring examples showing that circular business models and building standards are the future. This report captures and analyses the insights that all parties involved in the planning and construction process have gathered – and cross-referenced with “best circular practices”.

‘‘Circl is a perfect fit with ABN AMRO’s sustainability goals, entitled Mission 2030. The bank is going all out to make its real estate portfolio more sustainable. In applying and facilitating circular business models, we aim to make even more of a contribution to a future-proof society.” 

 Kees van Dijkhuizen (CEO, ABN AMRO)

With this report, Circle Economy wants to highlight the possibilities in the built environment sector – with all positive economic, social and environmental consequences that a circular building and planning process entails.

“We are passionate about bringing circularity to life. The built environment report is a great example of what is possible with committed leadership and great execution. We showcase the first real life examples of what is possible and we are proud to work with the early adopters within this field. The built environment sector has a huge potentially to create more liveable cities, a low-carbon economy and a more circular society.”

– Harald Friedl (CEO, Circle Economy)

Currently, only 3-4 % of the materials in residential and non-residential buildings are given a second life. Progress in civil engineering projects show there is room for improvement: here, an estimated 50 percent of the materials are recycled. A large part of the materials from residential and non-residential buildings still end up as rubble underneath roads or in biomass plants. We can do better. By applying material passports now, the efforts to improve on these numbers will become a reality. Together with the entire value chain we need to make the transition towards the circular economy, so sharing best practices and learnings, fully open source, is the first step! To further help accelerate the transition towards a circular construction industry, Circle Economy recently launched it’s Built Environment programme together with several frontrunner businesses.

To learn more about the built environment programme, sign up here.
Download the report


For press enquires contact us at: press@circle-economy.com

To support businesses on their circular journey, Circle Economy has developed a 10 step model on how to start and finance circular business. Read how to here

Looking for further circularity examples in the built environment sector? Visit our Knowledge Hub. 


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