Circular Economy Strategies for the Built Environment

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Science, Tech, Eng and Public Policy


Research Aim and Objectives
This research is expected to develop strategies to facilitate circular economic models, encompassing the planning, procurement, construction and maintenance of a regenerative built environment. This will be accompanied by policy guidance to support and sustain these initiatives with appropriate assistance and incentives.
The objectives will be to:
1. Identify the key factors both supporting and hindering circular practises in the UK and Internationally, investigating policy, behavioural and technical aspects;
2. Analyse data, identify trends and develop models;
3. Develop strategies, tools and provide policy guidance;
4. Assess implementation and impacts;
Case studies will be used to assess the current landscape of UK construction and to identify some of the key factors both supporting and hindering circular practises, for example regulations, cost or knowledge. A wide variety of case studies will be sought internationally to showcase innovations across a range of sectors in order to generalise factors attributing to both success and failure.
Qualitative assessment will be performed in order to evaluate the understanding of and attitudes towards the concept of a circular economy. These investigations may take the form of workshops, observations, interviews, or surveys in order to record behavioural factors and their influence. This should be inclusive of all professions and grades with the aim to highlight the stages of infrastructure lifecycle most and least conducive to the adoption of circular approaches, as well as the challenges associated with changes to behaviour or established practise.
Quantitative assessments will aim to account for the interrelations between a wide variety of factors attributed to the flow of resource. Beginning to understand both the internal relationships as well as external societal and environmental influences will be an incredibly insightful aspect of this work. These models have the potential analyse the current landscape and will also have the ability to test the network's reaction to changing conditions, such as market/supply failures, or the introduction of new initiatives.
In order to ensure the impact of these strategies the project will be conducted in partnership with key stakeholders. This includes industrial collaborator Arup and governmental department DEFRA as well as the potential for non governmental organisations and other academic institutions. Collaboration with these external groups will be essential to the projects overall success.
The early involvement of industrial partners will heavily inform the direction of this research. Since the aims are to develop strategies to implement a circular economy, specifically in the construction industry, early stakeholder involvement is crucial to producing accepted and feasible solutions. Input throughout the development of implementation strategies will aid in translating the research conclusions into industrial applications. Industrial partners will have to opportunity to adopt these strategies in practise, which will continue to be monitored under the scope of this project.
Since much of the research is multidisciplinary in nature the development of equally multidisciplinary academic and industrial partnerships will be crucial. For example, this will include experts in fields as divergent as engineering, process modelling, economics, and material, social and environmental sciences.
This research is expected to develop strategies to aid the implementation of a circular economic within the built environment. In turn this will reduce the industries impact on the environment as well as the countries reliance on volatile finite resources. Aside from negating risk the implementation of circular models has the ability to stimulate growth worth up to £10 billion over next 15 years (Lacy and Rutqvist, 2015).


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509577/1 01/10/2016 24/03/2022
1783692 Studentship EP/N509577/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2020 Zoe Henderson