Presented by: Dr. Naomi Keena
Join us on November 10th, 2021, at 12:05 pm (EST) for this free online webinar
As the rates of urbanization increase to unprecedented levels, the urgent need for sustainable housing and infrastructure has become a widespread global challenge with social, economic, and ecological implications. The housing sector directly impacts the majority of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs). However, striving to achieve these goals in a compartmentalized or siloed manner has impeded the implementation of transformational solutions in the housing sector that increase the security and wellbeing of urban populations. In particular, managing interconnections within the Built Environment Process (BEP) value chain poses many housing challenges. This is typically due to its siloed nature following a throughput linear economy that facilitates a culture of take-make-waste and lacks incentives for collaboration and exchange across the value chain.
One promising approach in rethinking current siloed models within the BEP, is that of circular economy (CE) which envisions a sustainable future where waste is eliminated in the built environment and materials and buildings are kept in use for as long as possible. Emerging literature in the area of circular materials management outline effective zero waste strategies towards significantly curbing global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and meeting the Paris Agreement goals. However, a CE approach to housing can go beyond solely waste recovery. This talk will present an approach to exploring CE in the built environment via building practices (a built case study) and data-driven approaches (a web application). It will highlight the need for both new circular building practices as well as their data-driven counterpart towards understanding and linking the complexity of the BEP value chain. The talk will outline ongoing interdisciplinary research on the development of nimble frameworks which map the BEP value chain, highlight relationships, and allow for communication across its stakeholders towards low-carbon and cost-effective decision-making. By tracking carbon, energy and material flows, this research aims to surpass the concept of a building, in abstraction, fixed solely in the operational phase, but rather as a system which undergoes multiple journeys of carbon, energy, and material transformation in its initial construction and future dismantle.
By addressing CE principles from the built as well as the digital perspectives, this research has significance in multi-stakeholder engagement and evidence-based decision-making, especially within work which strives to find solutions to grand challenges such as environmental issues. By unlocking the potential of circular economy principles in the built environment, it aims to facilitate in projecting future scenarios towards a sustainable and progressive future. It offers potential value to circular economy methods, amendments to policy and building codes, and the creation of incentives for cross-industry collaboration