Study: measuring the application of circular approaches in the construction industry ecosystem

The European Commission has published a study on measuring the application of circular approaches in the construction industry ecosystem.

The study investigated to what extent the construction ecosystem is applying circular approaches in practice, and how they can measure this. It found that a majority (68%) of companies studied mentioned circularity as part of their activities, however only a minority (38%) are measuring any of this.

The study recommends 19 indicators that companies could use to report on circular approaches in construction projects. These indicators apply at four different levels: construction product, building or infrastructure works, urban level, and organisational level. Given that construction is dominated by SMEs, the indicators are ones that SMEs should be capable and willing to report against. The study also explored how the indicators can work together and reinforce each other. For example, recycled content data from construction products feeds into several indicators at works level and across portfolios of works at organisational level. The study also developed case studies showing examples of where such indicators are already used across Europe.

The study found that a few key sources of data are highly important. These include standards EN 15804 (Environmental Product Declarations) and ISO 14021 (Environmental labels and declarations), and the Bill of Quantities used in the Level(s) framework for sustainable buildings.

The development of these indicators to measure uptake of circular approaches is timely, in the context of implementing the recommendations of the construction transition pathway published in March 2023, and monitoring of the green and digital transition.

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