Working towards recognition and appreciation of circular buildings
Our project aimed to develop and test a new label: "Circular Building". We wanted to launch this label in the building sector with the appeal, communication and promotional activities around the awarding of the first labels.
Initially, we analysed existing instruments to measure 'sustainability of buildings'. We also drew up a list of instruments that have been developed or are currently being developed to measure the 'circularity of buildings': Level(s), GRO, TOTEM, BREEAM (NL and UK), DGNB, HQE, LEED, BAMB, Circularity Indicator, Cenergie-tool, ...
After this, we started working on the new tool. It assesses buildings on 2 levels:
- quantitative, with attention to future-oriented design and construction, environmental impact, urban mining and transition,
- qualitative, with attention to scenario thinking and vision and to the pioneering role played by the building.
This approach fits in well with the current state of affairs in practice and knowledge, and supplements the measurable, quantitative part with more process-oriented indicators and evaluation. A jury can then, for example, put more or less emphasis on certain circular concepts, or identify different 'laureates' or 'pioneers' for the various components of 'a circular building' and give them extra recognition as an exemplary project through an 'Award'.
The development of a sustainable and appropriate business model was crucial but proved more complex than expected. It took much more time than anticipated. The final phase of the project (launch and presentation of the 'Circular Building' label) has therefore been postponed.
We placed a beta version of the methodology online so that various parties could test it and provide feedback. This way, the methodology can grow further.
MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED
The development of a methodology that 'calculates' the circularity of a building turns out to be more complex than initially thought. Which quantitative and qualitative data are included? When is the complete - or as complete as possible - set of variables for assigning the label reached? Does the developed methodology meet the market needs? How do we keep the list of questions manageable and user-friendly? How do we keep a balance between the objective and subjective data without losing credibility? ..
These questions will have to be addressed and re-evaluated several times in the future, in order for the label to develop into a strong brand with a large support base.
During the project, the evaluations of the factors needed to arrive at a suitable business model proved to be insufficient to make a well-considered choice for the future. It was a good choice to hire this expertise and guidance in the process.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
There is an increasing demand from the market to offer instruments to measure the circularity of buildings and to offer a guideline for new circular building projects. Based on this demand and because there is still potential for a strong label, we are continuing the project.
After all, the label (whether or not in combination with an award) will contribute to the recognition and appreciation of circular buildings.
Further elaboration of the label will take place within the Interreg CBCI (Circular Biobased Construction Industry). Within this new project scope, we will further test the methodology in the market, test the business model with stakeholders and work towards the delivery and launch of the label, including the strategy and associated (digital) tools and communication.
The progress of the initiative is thus guaranteed.