Built environment ripe for circular economies that cut carbon
12 January 2024 15:39
Weaving circular economics into building construction and urban planning could reduce carbon emissions significantly, according to a new white paper from the World Economic Forum and McKinsey & Company.
At present, the built environment contributes around 26 percent to global greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. That number will surely grow as global populations increase, especially in the developing world where carbon-based fuels are vital for economic growth.
In the white paper entitled “The Circularity in the Built Environment: Maximizing CO2 Abatement and Business Opportunities,” the authors claim that more sustainable, circular approaches to consumption and production could cut 13 percent of the built environment’s carbon emissions in 2030 and 75 percent in 2050. Circular economic approaches to the built environment could also yield as much as $46 billion in annual net profits by 2030 and as much as $360 billion by 2050.
“Reimagined design, technology, and innovative business models can significantly reduce waste, conserve resources, and unlock economic value,” said a McKinsey press release issued January 9 that described the white paper as “a call to action for leaders in both the public and private sectors.”
The white paper considers the carbon footprints of six building materials: aluminum, cement, glass, gypsum, plastics, and steel.
The research also argues that “lighthouses,” or pilot projects, that demonstrate the feasibility and scalability of circular economic models, are vital to spreading the word about better green building practices. ce/jd