19 September 2023

ICLEI supports sustainable and circular construction at World Congress of Architects

The construction sector is one of the most important and resource-intensive sectors, both from an economic and environmental standpoint. Construction accounts for roughly half of all material extraction, half of energy consumption, a third of water consumption and 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions. The buildings sector’s massive environmental footprint could be lowered substantially by transitioning to sustainable and circular construction approaches. In this context, at the world’s largest event on sustainable architecture, the World Congress of Architects, ICLEI exhibited a large presence to showcase its main construction- and renovation-related projects and organised a session on repurposing, reusing, and recycling construction materials, focusing on the work of the Danish CityLoops cities Høje-Taastrup and Roskilde.

The EU-funded ICLEI projects presented at the World Congress of Architects highlight the potential for a more sustainable construction sector. The project AEGIR seeks to design and apply renovation solutions packages in four buildings in Denmark, France, Romania and Spain, to catalyse the European Renovation Wave and future-proof the EU's building stock. Solutions are designed to be scalable, industrialised, smart, non-intrusive, quick, and affordable. The Save the Homes project established Citizen Hubs, or so-called One-Stop-Shops (OSS), in ICLEI Member Cities Rotterdam (The Netherlands) and Valencia (Spain). These OSS address local fragmentation of supply and demand, by supporting homeowners in their renovation journey (raising awareness, providing support in accessing relevant subsidy schemes, and developing roadmaps) and helping companies develop necessary technical skills. The EXCESS project developed innovative technologies, approaches and business models to transform new and existing residential buildings into net-energy producers (or so-called positive energy buildings). The solutions are being implemented in four different climate zones - in ICLEI Members Graz (Austria) and Helsinki (Finland) as well as Hasselt (Belgium) and Valladolid (Spain).

ICLEI’s main project presented at the World Congress of Architects was CityLoops, which focused on circular economy solutions for Construction and Demolition Waste (CDW). CDW consists of various materials used in construction (such as excavated soil, concrete, bricks, glass, wood, metals, gypsum, plastic, solvents, and hazardous substances) and represents the largest waste stream in the EU per volume. At the same time, this sector plays an important role in the economy, generating about 9% of the EU’s GDP and providing 18 million direct jobs. In CityLoops six cities - Apeldoorn (The Netherlands), Bodø (Norway), Høje-Taastrup and Roskilde (Denmark), Mikkeli (Finland), and Seville (Spain) - piloted a series of circular economy actions with the aim of achieving circularity in their local construction sector. They tested over 30 new instruments and processes, ranging from instruments for predicting future excavated soil and CDW production, to awareness-raising campaigns, from circularity decision making support tools, to simulation of impacts 3D visualisation tools.

The CityLoops cities now aim to share the results of their work widely and to enable cities across Europe (and beyond) to replicate and upscale their efforts and to contribute to the circular transition. To that end, the project has developed a handbook on circular construction for local and regional governments that aims to provide cities with a comprehensive overview of how the lessons learnt and main insights from the project can be most effectively applied in their own contexts. Additionally, to provide more granular support on the CDW instruments and experiences carried out over the project, Replication Packages have been created with detailed information to allow replication of specific actions within circular construction.

Click here to learn more about ICLEI’s work on Circular Economy and the Built Environment.