12 lessons learned from the Green Deal Circular Procurement
1. Change-oriented design
Exploit the available space as much as possible. This can be encouraged by making it suitable for various functions. In Tervuren, for example, sports clubs and youth clubs share the rooms in the new Berg van Termunt building.
By designing or building in a modular way, or with a method which facilitates adaptation later, you can make your building future-proof and able to respond to changing needs.
2. Market dialogue
There are already lots of innovations in the construction industry in terms of circular solutions, in fact it’s ahead of other sectors in this respect. It’s important, therefore, to look into what’s already available on the market, and to enter into dialogue with providers in order to find the best circular solution together and stimulate innovation.
3. Maximal value retention
By maintaining, repairing or renovating existing infrastructure and installations according to a circular model, the value of the building materials and raw materials used is preserved as much as possible. Little or no new material should be used, and waste avoided.
4. Environmental impact of materials
Our buildings are becoming ever more efficient in terms of energy consumption, and may well become virtually energy-neutral in the future. The energy consumption of buildings during the use phase will therefore represent an increasingly smaller share of the total environmental impact. This is in contrast to materials, today responsible for about 15 to 18% of a building's total environmental footprint, which will play an increasingly decisive role. TOTEM, the free on-line tool based on LCA, allows architects to take material performance of building elements into account from the outset during the design.
5. Insight into materials
Request the use of universal parts with standard sizes and materials that can be easily removed or replaced. The materials used in your building can be tracked with a materials passport or digital inventory. The BIM can help to improve the sharing of information about the materials used.
6. Stimulate reuse and recycling
The construction industry traditionally generates a vast amount of waste. Committing to reuse during construction, demolition or renovation can reduce the volume of this waste stream. Solutions include using demolition products on site, specifying a minimum percentage of reused or recycled content in the contract documents, or taking disassembly into account in your design. The visible use of recycled materials, for example, can enhance awareness and the circular image of the property developer.
Residual values for take-back and reuse can be specified in the contractual arrangements, depending on the condition of the materials.
7. Cooperation in the chain
Good coordination between chain partners is required for a successful circular construction project. In your contract documents, you can ask for information on how this will be organised. For example, if you all work as an open construction team with all the different parties around the table, the concept can be better defined and circular solutions sought out more quickly and efficiently.
8. Circular example projects as a catalyst for change
Not everyone is convinced of the benefits of circular construction yet, so completed buildings can act as an accelerator to get everyone on board.
9. Alternative models of
The circular construction financial model is currently at a disadvantage in traditional procurement procedures. The design choices in Design and Build projects are different to those in Design, Build, Finance and Maintain (DBFM) projects: the contractor retains long-term responsibility for DBFM projects, so is obliged to guarantee better long-term quality. Alternative procurement models thus benefit circular construction, as those involved have to think more deeply about the future of buildings, their maintenance, adaptations, etc.
10. Use specific circular criteria
Additional criteria should be introduced in procurement procedures. For example, providers can be asked about their vision of the circular economy leading up to 2030 in the context of the Raw Materials Decree (grondstoffendecreet). This encourages providers to think more deeply, and more results can be achieved. Including sustainability as a criterion is too vague; specific criteria on circular construction must be included to trigger participants where, for example, additional points can be obtained.
11. Study the long-term costs
Right from the outset, minor interventions in line with certain integrated circular construction concepts at the building level can result in important long-term financial benefits with limited additional costs. After all, buildings that are easier to adapt to new functions in the long term avoid significant demolition and renovation costs. However, these operating costs are often ignored by a building’s property developer or investor, as there is still insufficient clarity over the life cycle cost (maintenance, adjustments, etc.). For example, in terms of investment it’s often difficult to convince customers that an additional cost from the outset can have major financial benefits in the long run.
12. Give startups a chance
Small startups with a circular approach should be given the opportunity to sit down with the larger companies to prove that their option is cheaper over the long run than other solutions. These startups often face difficulties in acquiring new customers in the early stages of their business, which prevents them from growing.
Flemish Green Deal Circular Construction
On 22 February 2019, Koen Van den Heuvel, the Flemish minister of the Environment, Nature and Agriculture, launched the Green Deal Circular Construction , an initiative by Flanders Circular, OVAM and the Flemish Construction Confederation. With this joint commitment, construction companies, building material manufacturers, local and regional authorities, private builders, researchers and other organisations will work together to make circular construction in Flanders a daily reality in the future.