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A circular economy for the property sector. It’s not business as usual!

The second in our series of Autumn breakfast briefings for the property sector took place in Birmingham, and brought together representatives of a range of organisations from across the region. Birmingham has a population of 1.1 million and is famous as the city with more canal miles than Venice.

It is the business and employment sector for the West Midlands region with 500,000 people working there, and major construction projects include the HS2 high-speed rail link from London which will create two new rail stations, one in the centre of the city and one at the airport.

The presentation at the event came from BRE’s Gilli Hobbs, who spoke about the challenges and opportunities for new circular economy thinking for the property and construction sector. Gilli provided an overview of the BAMB project – Buildings as Material Banks – a 3½ year EU-funded project, with 15 partners from 7 countries. She explained how circular economy was not ‘business as usual’ but is about optimising the value of property assets, introducing new ideas in the form of reversible building designs, and  new business models for the re-use of buildings, components and materials. The BAMB project involves multiple pilots with buildings designed for maximum transformation and reversibility, and places a strong emphasis on decision making support, data management, demonstration and dissemination. Attendees then broke off into discussion groups and here are some of the key comments and discussion points.

System Change: Circular economy thinking requires systemic change – in design culture, understanding, capturing and re-capturing value

Stakeholders: There are big issues of different stakeholders being involved over the life of a building – how do we get them to share and maximise value?

Learn by Doing is Key: BAMB involves multiple pilot projects and  by education. This is the best way to explore & encourage the adoption of circular economy thinking.

Identifying Value: Often driven by the type of client – asset owners & managers who plan for the longer term should be more interested in adaptable and value added buildings. A push from the client side helps a lot. However, it is still not clear how to optimise these assets – from material up to building level – over the highly variable timescale of a building life cycle.

Download a copy of our event summary  Event Summary


Details of the first breakfast event for the property sector, covering Health & Wellbeing, can be found here