Thinking circular: everyone can do something
Our most recent circular economy workshop focused on the new business models needed to transition to a circular economy in the built environment. We discussed Colin Evison’s, Head of Innovation at BAM Nuttall, experience of using sensors on site to improve operations, and his view that virtual and augmented reality could be used in construction to enable a circular economy. BAM Nuttall has recently been trialling HoloLens mixed reality technology in their offices, as it could enable real time working between people in different parts of the country. Colin mentioned that these new technologies could be disruptive to the construction industry and will require the whole industry, including BAM, to embrace these changes, adapt our business models, and take advantage of these innovations by driving changes in target areas such as the circular economy.
Jeremy Summary, Senior Segment Manager, Sustainability at Armstrong Ceilings, believes that to work towards a circular economy, doing something is always better than doing nothing. He provided an overview of what Armstrong Ceilings did to attain Cradle to Cradle certification for some of their ranges of ceiling tiles. The company was judged on five quality categories: material health, material reutilisation, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship and social fairness.
Jeremy said that while it won’t always be possible to change a business model to enable a fully circular solution, something as simple as trialling a new design or researching barriers to changing your business can be a step towards circularity.
In groups, the attendees worked through some suggested short and long term circular economy solutions on a hypothetical project. The first group explored the idea of how fire doors could be used again as ‘good as new’ products. Several enablers were explored, including standardised door sizes, working with demolition contractors to solve the logistical challenges of removal, and tagging them so that all stakeholders could track each individual door through its lifecycle. This would prevent the doors from becoming waste and reduce financial costs.
The second group explored whether current light fittings could be ‘harvested’ as a resource in the future, and if redundant fittings (end of line stock / incorrect orders) could be used in new projects. Again, product tags were identified as an enabler, as well as incorporating the removal of the products into a delivery schedule. The benefit would be reduced waste, lower cost lighting and efficiencies in material use and transport.
Whitecroft Lighting gave the group a tour around their site facilities to show automated robotic technology on their production lines to improve efficiency. This reflected our earlier discussions about how technology is changing the way we will work in the future.
This was the final in a series of four workshops BAM has staged to engage with key members of our supply chain. You can find blogs about the earlier workshops here.
We hope that the workshops will lead to successful circular economy solutions in the near future, and hope to be able to propose circular options in future tenders. We would be delighted to hear either members of the supply chain, or clients who would like to discuss the circular economy further.
Julia Messenger is a Sustainability Advisor at BAM
To discuss opportunities about the circular economy further, contact us.
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