This year, on January the 23rd, the conference on “Climate change and circular economy: challenges for the building industry” took place at the headquarters of the CNC (National Confederation of Building, according to its initials in Spanish). The main objective of this conference was to raise social awareness towards the impact the building industry has on the environment since, according to the figures released, fossil fuels represent close to 75% of global consumption, still signifying one of the main energy sources in the European Community.

According to Ampere Energy’s managing director, Alexandre Díez Baumann: “The building field must head for a more sustainable and efficient model, relying on renewable energies, and aiming to change this tendency and reduce the effects derived from global warming.

Another aspect that was emphasised is the importance in the building sector of adaptation, restoration and creation of infrastructures able to respond possible unfavourable or risky situations, such as the ones produced by natural disasters. Natural disasters are usually labelled as “special circumstances”, however, they tend to occur more often than not, as a consequence of climate change.

Circular economy: the key to sustainable management

Circular economy is a quite original economic concept, which is inherently connected with sustainability. The main goal of circular economy is to add higher value to resources, materials and products in order to reduce the amount of residues, waste and air pollutants and to make it possible that current economy sustains itself over time, in other words, this new concept of economy tries to generate intelligent and sustainable growth, relying on the support of the European Parliament and the European Council.

Circular economy differs from the current economic model, known as linear economy, in that it focuses on closing the lifecycle both of products and services, residues, materials, raw material or energy. With this management model, resources are maximised and the environmental impact of human action is reduced.

Circular economy is required in order to accomplish the goals set by Europe with regard to energy and pollution reduction, and to increase the use of clean energies and in this way, improving profit considerably:

  • Increase of business profit. Since energy consumption diminishes, business profit grows exponentially.
  • Increasing use of new technologies. By means of them, renewable energy sources are optimised and energy management would become more efficient.
  • Decreasing use of conventional energy. Buildings are the cause of the expense of more than 40% of the energy used in Europe, so the reduction of energy cost has been set as a main objective for future constructions and building restoration, what is more, it is intended that the “buildings of the future” consume almost zero energy and that they are self-sufficient.
  • Decreasing use of natural resources such as water, coal, or fossil fuels, thanks to recycling and the increasing use of renewable energies, thus guaranteeing their future provision.
  • New opportunities of economic growth thanks to innovation and the enhancement of competitiveness.
  • Improvement of the brand image. The client of the future will highly consider the environmental implication of the company and the governments when it comes to purchase or hire services. According to information gathered during this conference, 20% of future purchasers will lean towards those companies that are committed to the environment.
  • One of the main issues of the building industry is the one regarding the construction and demolition waste (C&DW) management; every year, millions of tons of waste are generated, and their recycling is not always properly managed. Circular economy, besides enabling the recycling of such materials, guarantees that they do not contain harmful substances that could decline environmental conditions.

The building sector confronts great challenges that will have to be faced in the coming years. Nonetheless, fortunately, it can rely on technology and innovation as main allies that help in the shift towards a circular economy and the relief of the effects of climate change. Together with the proper management of natural resources, the reduction of polluting residues and the enhancement of building performance for the already existing buildings, energy efficiency will be achieved, reaching this way, in the short and medium term, the objectives posed by the European Union in matters of sustainability.