Liang-Cheng Lui, President of the Taiwan Construction Research Institute and President of the Taiwan Society for Circular Economy
Cheng-Han Huang, Head of the Taiwan Construction Research Institute/Construction Management IT Team
Dr. Chen-Chian Hsieh, Deputy Project Manager of the Taiwan Construction Research Institute, Information Technology Group
(1) Introduction of the “Circular Economy” in the Full Life Cycle of the Construction Industry
If construction results are regarded as a product, and the concept of a full life cycle assessment is introduced into the construction industry for a resource utilization inspection, it can be found that each stage requires multitudes of resources. In the traditional economy, it is an economic model of “mass production, mass consumption and mass waste.” If construction results are introduced into the circular economy, then resources can be maximized and waste minimized, and a sound circular economy ecology for the construction industry can be established through laws and regulations and the certification of relevant standards (such as the BS8001 Circular Economy Standard); one of the methods is to introduce the commercial activities of a circular economy. Relevant modes can be introduced from the design and planning, construction, maintenance, renewal, and demolition stages to form a circular economy cycle that complies with the analysis and description of the article, “Construction Circular Economy: the Same Old Issue of Recycling Waste Resources?” In this article, it is pointed out that the circular economy mode for the construction industry is based on using resources efficiently and optimizing the mode of use. In terms of scope, it focuses on construction sharing, resource efficiency, extended life of construction achievements, activation and utilization of idle projects or facilities, and the recycling of waste resources. It also puts forward the key points in each construction stage, rather than just the recycling of construction waste resources. The key points for the introduction to the construction industry are summarized as follows, and government units may first establish relevant systems in social housing to promote and practice the vision of sustainable urban development.
1. Introducing the concept of reduction from the 3R’s into the construction (including the design and planning) phase: Planning effective resource utilization and efficient energy use to pursue resource efficiency.
2. Introducing the concept of reuse from the 3R’s into the use phase: Extend the service life of construction facilities through proper maintenance, flexible reuse and shared use, which is similar in some aspects to the pursuit of server life extension.
3. Introducing the concept of recycling from the 3R’s in the demolition and reconstruction phase: Recycle and reuse construction waste generated in the construction industry (such as redundant materials in construction and demolished concrete or bricks) and other industrial waste (such as steel furnace slag and coal-fired fly ash) for new construction projects.
Circular economy scope of the construction industry
(Source: “Construction Circling Economy: the Same Old Issue of Recycling Waste Resources?” 2018)
(2) Rent only and no sale, with operation and maintenance as the keys and circular economy as the solution
The five principles of the circular economy are respectively “redesign of product materials,” “innovative business model with ownership transfer,” “creating the highest value through internal recycling forces,” “waste recycling,” and “industrial symbiosis.” These five concepts can be introduced into the construction industry, as explained below:
1. Redesign of product materials
Design is the first step to realizing the existing product cycle. The newly implemented market and business model can be realized if modular, easy-to-maintain and durable products/construction achievements are designed during the design of products or construction achievements, recyclable,[U1] renewable, and biodegradable resources are provided, and an appropriate recycling system is established.
2. Innovative business model with ownership transfer
For consumers, both houses and furniture are used for their product functions rather than just as products themselves. The circular economy is a good field for innovative business models that provide the integration of related products and services, which allows construction units (owners) to provide services without selling, and introduces rental manufacturers in order to have more control and serve people who have the need, reduces maintenance worries, and promotes the recycling of used goods so that goods or houses can be reused, allowing them to have a flexible and customized rental model, in order to promote the sharing mechanism and gradually integration into life.
3. Creating the highest value through internal recycling forces
For the products or construction achievements in the circular economy system, the relevant resources and values should be the maximum, which can be recycled and continuously used. Therefore, no matter whether it is a design of construction achievements or products, we must try to maintain the highest value, and maintain economic efficiency through maintenance, upgrading, re-manufacturing and re-marketing so as to maximize the value with a small number of resources.
4. Waste recycling
By converting waste into a resource, restoring the implied resource or original value of a product or construction achievement at the end of its life cycle, and innovating, upgrading, recycling and reusing the original waste by converting it into resources or re-treating it as a recycling by-product, the cost of construction waste or business waste disposal can be saved in the short term, and new sources of income can be created. In the long run, it can help the social housing and its related furniture and equipment leasing industry to save the cost of raw materials, reducing waste and related pollution emissions.
5. Industrial symbiosis
Gathering different industries in the construction project together to achieve mutual competitive advantage through the exchange and sharing of materials, energy, water or by-products, so as to reduce the impact on the ecology and reduce the cost of waste disposal and product production.
With reference to the promotion of both the internal and external circular economy in construction in various countries, the preliminary consideration of introducing the circular economy into the villa in this case includes leasing without selling, recycling building materials, sharing innovation, flexible modules, and optimizing system and resource reuse in the design of the origin of circular economy. The design principles and concepts are realized in the Qingwan Villa project, including modular light compartments, energy-saving LED lamps, a rainwater recycling system, building intelligent monitoring systems, and furniture and home appliance rental modes.
(3) The realization of the “circular economy” is the foundation for sustainable urban development
It is the current trend for the circular economy to integrate green building and smart building concepts, and introduce building design and implementation architecture. Through the introduction of the circular 3R concepts (reduce, reuse, and recycle) in the architectural design stage, introducing the five major circular economy models (product material redesign, innovative business model with ownership transfer, creating the highest value through internal recycling forces, waste recycling, and industrial symbiosis), and at the same time connect the six ReSOLVE models (“regeneration,” “sharing” “optimization,” “looping,” “virtualization,” and “exchange”) in the aspects of production, ecology and living, and introduce circular economy implementation items into the six models in the overall circular economy planning, so as to enhance the value of circular regeneration and efficient utilization of residential resources, and achieve the goals of sustainable development, industry promotion and a sustainable city.
1. Hui-Ren Chiu and Cheng-Han Huang, Feasibility of Applying the European Union Building Material Bank’s Plan to Nangang Public Housing, Construction Information, Issue 435, 2019.
2. Taoyuan Luzhu District A10 Station New Social Housing Entrusted Project Management (Including Supervision) Technical Service Case, Social Housing Circular Economy Development Policy and Financial Evaluation Analysis and Suggestions, Final Report, 2021.
3. Rong-Yao Huang, Construction Circling Economy: the Same Old Issue of Recycling Waste Resources? Construction Information, Issue 436, 2018.
4. Cheng-Li Chan, Cheng-Han Huang, Hui-Ren Chiu, Building Materials Passport Establishment - Taking the Netherlands Pavilion of Taipei Flora Expo as An Example, Construction Information, Issue 435, 2019.
5. Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute (2020): CRADLE TO CRADLE CERTIFIED.
6. Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2015): Circularity Indicators: An Approach to Measuring Circularity - methodology.
7. Zhi Cao (2020): The sponge effect and carbon emission mitigation potentials of the global cement cycle.