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Circular Construction In Regenerative Cities (CIRCuIT)

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CIRCuIT (Circular Construction In Regenerative Cities (CIRCuIT))

Reporting period: 2020-12-01 to 2022-05-31

Cities hold the key to the transition to a resource and material efficient and regenerative society. They must seek collaboration with industry to rethink the use of scarce materials and build a new urban agenda on circular economy. In the construction industry price, quality and time are key competitive parameters, and profit margins are limited. Thus, the industry tends to use well-known construction methods to mitigate risks. However, if the developer (public or private) demands sustainable or circular solutions, this may change the business.

Around 40% of society's contribution to global warming can be related to the built environment due to processing of materials and energy expenditure for construction and operations. To reduce these impacts, it is necessary to increase both volume and quality of reused construction materials.

The overall objective of CIRCuIT is to demonstrate innovative solutions for closing the loop of urban materials and resource flows in the built environment sector.

The specific objectives are to:
• Implement circular economy approaches for the built environment in four cities
• Engage public authorities, the construction industry, community-based partners, innovative entrepreneurs and academia in participatory value chain partnerships
• Develop and demonstrate three innovative solutions of circular construction in four cities
• Map flows of building materials in the four cities to support digital pre-demolition audits and matching of supply and demand,
• Set up a Circularity Hub, as a data platform for evaluating progress of circular economy, including a range of indicators for monitoring
• Develop urban planning approaches and instruments that can support cities in implementing circular construction solutions
• Set up a knowledge sharing structure, the CIRCuIT Academy.

To help cities demand circular solutions, CIRCuIT will develop a set of recommendations that include possible actions within urban planning and building permits, replicable criteria that cities can include in their public tenders, template business cases and instruments for the dialogues with developers before construction start.

These governance recommendations will build on the output of the three innovative solutions:
1. Urban mining and reverse cycles (WP4): For obsolete constructions and spaces that are to be demolished, building materials can be reused, if an inventory is made and they are dismantled to reduce consumption of virgin materials.
2. Extend life-cycle through transformation and refurbishment of the built environment (WP5): For constructions that are no longer suitable for the current use but still represent values to the urban or peri-urban area, e.g. heritage, parts of the construction can be transformed and reprogrammed for other purposes.
3. Design for disassembly and flexible construction (WP6): For new construction areas where buildings and landscapes are to be developed, buildings can be designed to meet new demands in the future.

Each city/region will conduct three demonstrations for each solution, i.e. 36 demonstrations in total.
WP3 Map flows of built environment materials
An analysis of the availability of data in CIRCuIT cities sows that specific data on material stocks and flows is overall scarce, lacks granularity, and generally is uncertain in terms of robustness. Data is collected for numerous reasons and according to numerous methodologies, and is presented in a wide range of units, formats, at varying levels of granularity, and with varying levels of accessibility. However, there is some scope for characterisation of stocks and flows using existing data on building stock, though additional analysis is needed to achieve this.

WP4 Urban mining and reverse cycles
The aim is to evaluate the EU pre-demolition audit guidelines and to identify options to improve the reuse and recycling performance in cities. CIRCuIT has designed a template for conducting the pre-demolition audit that serves to determine the available quantities and the quality of reusable and recyclable materials and building elements prior to demolition. The cities are using the template in the pre-demolition audits. Two demonstrations per city will be related to demolition and test of the pre-demolition audit and one demonstration will be related to reusable and recyclable materials.

WP5 Extend life-cycles through transformation and refurbishment
The building types that are of interest for demolition and transformation vary greatly between the cities. All the cities identified modernist industrial/commercial buildings. In Copenhagen, London and Hamburg, though not in significant extents in Vantaa, also residential buildings were found to be threatened by demolition. London, Hamburg and Vantaa all observed that low-rise and low-density stock is replaced with higher-rise and higher-density stock. This finding corresponds well with the current theoretical knowledge on building replacement and reinforces the empirical evidence base.

WP6 Design for disassembly and flexible construction
The aim of the Urban Decision Maker Forum is to bring together key stakeholders in each city to build in-depth understanding of barriers and accelerators, and to create local ownership and the knowledge to accelerate the implementation of circular and flexible building projects. One meeting has been held in each city. The theme for the meetings has been to identify and address challenges and opportunities for implementation of circular economy strategies in construction.

WP7 Governance, instruments and urban planning approaches
The legislative context around urban planning and in building permits does not provide much room for setting specific demands circular economy in planning practices on city level. Current national laws limit the possibility to directly implement actions and set specific demands on circular economy in city administrations.

The template business cases aim at presenting evidence to policymakers so they can make more informed decisions. Project partners have been collating existing examples to give a description of the opportunity, assessments of the potential impact of the policy, descriptions of the potential policies and references for similar policies. However, the level of detail and emphasis on each of these elements does vary. Therefore, we will discuss with city policy makers across the four cities, which aspects would be most beneficial to inform their decisions.

WP9 Networking, training and dissemination: the CIRCuIT Academy
The CIRCuIT City Network was held om 3 November 2020 and was redesigned into a combined web-meeting and in-person meeting.
Almost all of the 36 demonstrations have been identified.

Among the expected impacts are:
- increasing the regenerative capacity in the partner cities to enable a yearly reduction of virgin raw material consumption of at least 20% in new built environments.
- an exploitation of the embodied energy of the existing built environment corresponding to an energy saving potential of 25% of the total building project, when comparing to a new building project.