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24-03-2021

Data for a circular economy

In order to implement the principles of sustainable development in the construction and real estate industry, the central task is to conserve natural resources and to avoid or reduce negative effects on the global and local environment and the health of processors, users, occupants, residents and visitors.

A shift from the current linear economy to circular value chains is essential to ensure a reliable supply of raw materials at lower-to-zero environmental impact. Therefore, qualified information of the recycling potential of building materials and products are necessary and can be provided via a so-called Circularity Modules for Environmental Product Declaration (CMEPD). This new format was developed within a research project of the German Environment Agency (ger.: Umweltbundesamt). CMEPDs supplement existing building material data sets with the information needed to plan and implement circular approaches and provide the end-of-life data for Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) required by EN 15804+A2.

The past (German) colloquium on “Data for the circular economy in the construction industry – Information on the end of life of building products” held by the Institut Bauen und Umwelt e.V. (short: IBU) brought together different players in the waste management and recycling industry in order to discuss current developments towards a circular economy in the construction sector. Starting with a short introduction of the political and legal framework regarding CMEPDs. In order to assess requirements for a European circular economy in the construction sector, participants of the German Sustainable Building Council (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen e.V. – DGNB), Swedish Kobolde AB, Association of Insulating Materials from Renewable Raw Materials e.V. and Association of the German Wood-Based Panel Industry e.V.  spoke about sustainable deconstruction and strengthening the circular economy through transparency and a necessary data basis. The focus was set on the four exemplary resource streams PVC floor coverings, mineral and metallic building materials and wood-based materials. Julia Goerke (Sphera solutions GmbH) explained the necessary steps towards a circular economy using the example of our project Circular Flooring. Based on the participating project partners, she explained how the different actors along the life cycle of a construction product need to cooperate to establish a circular economy system. Once the system is established, the CMEPD format provides the necessary environmental information to conduct the life cycle assessment (LCA) of a building.

Many thanks to Julia for presenting Circular Flooring and to all organizers for hosting the colloquium!

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