The construction sector is a significant threat to the environment. According to Dorina-Nicolina Isopescu, the construction sector in the EU consumes one-half of extracted resources and half of all the energy produced. Not only that – the construction sector consumes a third of all water consumed!

energy consumption
1/2 of all energy consumption
water consumption
1/3 of all water consumption
material consumption
1/2 of all extracted materials

The construction sector does not only intensively uses natural resources. It is also a huge contributor to pollution – it contributes to a global emission of CO2 with 36%. At the same time, one-third of all the waste is created by the construction sector.

waste creation build circular
1/3 of all waste
co2 emission build circular
36% of the global CO2 emission

For these reasons, education and implementation of a circular economy in the construction sector represent a significant step towards a healthier and more sustainable society. To make it possible for architects and engineers to design buildings that cultivate circularity as their main feature, it is necessary to understand what circular economy and circular construction really are. 

Workshop on How to Build Circular

That is why, Center for the circular economy, CirEkonCleantech Bulgaria, and Wuppertal Institute, within a project Circular Economy Beacons, decided to organize a workshop – International Knowledge Transfer on transition on circular construction. More than 30 young and talented architects, engineers, and master students of architecture, electrical engineering, construction, and organizational science got a chance to be part of this project. At the workshop, they expanded and deepened their knowledge about the circular economy, with a final goal to design a self-sustainable space, a circular beacon, that would be a fantastic basis for the expansion of knowledge and idea of the circular economy.

Equipped with the knowledge about how the ecological principles will impact construction in the future and how we can build in a circular manner, participants of the workshop connected into several teams, ready to show their creativity through a circular and innovative design. Two months after the workshop started, on the 18th of December, the best teams got a chance to share with experts what they have been working on in the past months and get their feedback and advice.

Presentation of Project Proposals

Four teams presented their project proposals to reconstruct the building on Vojvode Misica Boulevard in Belgrade. A prize worth €1,200 will be given to the best team after the completion of the feasibility study. Members of the most successful team received an annual membership in the Serbia Green Building Council. 

The jury was multidisciplinary and consisted of:

  1.         Jovan Mitrovic, BSc in Architecture and a member of SrbGBC;
  2.          Milan Veselinov, MSc in Industrial Ecology, circular economy expert, and director of CirEkon i
  3.          Nebojsa Vranes, BSc in Economics, waste management expert from Serbian Chamber of Commerce.

The task that jury had was everything but easy because they were supposed to choose only one among four exceptionally talented and strong teams. The team they have chosen was the one that managed to incorporate the ideas of eco and circular design in their project in the most innovative and authentic way. 

Focus on the Circular Economy

Team Coccinella showed that they understood the circular economy’s main idea better than other teams. More importantly, they implemented it into their design.

The project’s main goal was to create a self-sustainable, circular space that will have a minimal impact on the environment through its construction and functioning. It is supposed to be accessible for everyone – architects, consultants, innovators, and many others, who will lay the foundations for the circular economy in Serbia. This space should encourage everyone to live more responsibly and healthily. That is what all the teams were focused on when working on their designs.

coccinella project proposal build circular
Project Proposal - Team Coccinella

Team Coccinella, in their project of the building reconstruction, proposed to use materials of natural origin and materials suitable for circular use. Besides, the team tried to, whenever it was possible, find a purpose for materials that were part of the existing structure. When deciding about the material that will be used, they were taking care of its price, availability, environmental impact, carbon footprint, as well as the possibility of returning it to the system. 

Besides, they were considering specific characteristics of the location of the building. They found a way to incorporate their project into the ambiance, protect the space from air-pollution and traffic, provide ideas about the ways to reuse of the water in the building and collect rainwater. The building in their project entirely relies on renewable energy resources. The project proposal presented by the winning team emphasized a need for circularity in each of its aspects. 

What did Participants Say?

Nobody can explain the workshop’s importance for its participants better than themselves. These are some of their impressions. 

“Context map, Circularity Compass, Structural waste matrix, and Six building layer diagram are sufficient for fast conceptual project development. Much other literature given was great for a deeper understanding of circularity. There are many possibilities for what you can do with materials and objects, but you have to find the best one for you. Please think twice before you decide not to use something and throw it in the landfill. Think about the impact of the materials you decide to use.”
Anja Staljonic
BSc in Architecture
“Resources are more valuable than they seem. There is a lot of money to be saved by doing circular. Technology is here. All we need to do is act!”
Bosko Zakula
BSc in Architecture
“In landscape architecture projects, we always use the porous pavement, and we think a lot about sustainability. I consider this workshop very useful for my previous projects and work. Also, we need to share knowledge and spread ecological consciousness. The Context Map was beneficial to understand the influence and consequences due to the reckless application of materials. After that, the most challenging part was to realize and define the main influence, the most important ones. But everyone has their own experience and knowledge, so after brainstorming, it was good. It is perfect for stakeholder analysis and to see how design can influence on every aspect.”
Dejana Pesikan
BSc in Landscape Architecture

Do you want to learn more about circular construction?

With this workshop we inspired young people to start thinking about implementing principles of the circular economy in their professional careers. To successfully implement the circular economy, we need more initiatives like this one. We need to share and build our knowledge and experiences. That is the only way to make a system that will create a better future for all of us. 

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If you are interested in circular construction, you can read more about it in our manual. 

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