From resource crisis to material abundance: the potential of circular construction
Globally, the construction industry is the biggest consumer of energy and materials. Over the full life cycle, building construction and operation accounts for 40% of energy use and process-related greenhouse gas emissions, as well as 50% of raw material extraction and solid waste production. Since the rate of construction is significantly higher than demolition and discard, society is building up an important economy-wide anthropogenic stock. By some estimates, existing buildings account for as much as 90% of all materials ever extracted from the Earth’s crust. The built environment and its stock of components consequently represent a valuable, local, and low-carbon reserve for the construction of future cities, which could – if utilized – significantly reduce the negative effects on our planet, while enabling a new architectural language. Circular construction promotes a paradigm shift in how we design, construct, and operate buildings, and in the way resources are being managed within the built environment. This seminar will highlight ongoing research projects of the Circular Construction Lab at Cornell AAP and discuss systemic changes to today’s construction industry.