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Townmore: Understanding Circular Economy in the Built Environment


The ‘circular economy’ is broadly recognised and accepted as being important for the industry, yet it is still quite poorly understood in practice. 

By way of definition or explanation, circularity in the built environment refers to the approach of designing and constructing buildings, infrastructure, and urban spaces in a way that mimics the closed-loop systems found in nature. At a societal level, this can include using renewable resources and materials that can be easily reused or recycled, designing buildings to be energy-efficient and to generate their own power, and planning cities and neighbourhoods to minimise waste and pollution. The goal of circularity in the built environment is to create more sustainable and resilient communities that can adapt to the challenges of climate change and population growth. At an industry level, the circular economy of construction aims to create a more sustainable and resilient built environment by applying these circular principles. 


What does this look like in practice?

Examples of the circular economy of construction includes strategies to repurpose, refurbish and reuse building components, materials and products, as well as strategies for deconstruction, waste management and material recycling, rather than relying on traditional linear “take-make-dispose” model.

Most importantly, by creating a circular economy of construction, it is possible to lessen the environmental impact of the built environment, reduce the consumption of finite resources, and create more efficient and sustainable systems – which is better for everyone.

As proud members and supporters of Ireland’s Green Building Council, we were delighted to participate in the body’s current Course Mail series – ‘Circular economy in the built environment‘, which is a series of four informative, resource-packed emails developed by the UKGBC and adapted by IGBC. 

The email course starts by asking what the following question inspires in you: ‘What is a circular economy and can it be applied to your organisation?’. This is an important starting point as it acknowledges the lack of deep understanding of the ‘what?’ and the ‘how?’ of circular principles. It further acknowledges that to apply circular economy principles in practice is challenging and requires systemic change. 

But the benefits are great: “The circular economy is a $4.5 trillion opportunity!” Read more about the opportunities here

CPD accreditation is available for this IGBC course and you can  sign up at