In theory, the circular economy offers an elegant alternative to the siled, short-sighted and garbage-eaten reputation of the construction industry – an industry that accounts for 38% of global greenhouse gas emissions by some estimates. This lens offers an irresistible opportunity to expand the ecosystem around the design, construction, operation, renewal and reallocation of buildings and invites stakeholders to take a longer-term view of the lifecycle. life of a building; it is an opportunity to examine the past, present and future use of materials and components within the economy.

In new construction, the possibilities are endless. We have seen impressive examples of circularity in the built environment: projects that design buildings as material banks enabled by digital material passports that are modular, flexible, and built with the highest standards of sustainable materials.

[Want to learn more about how to build a circular economy? Check out Circularity 22, taking place in Atlanta, GA, May 17-19.]

But what about buildings already built?

Bay Area-based All for Reuse tackles a complex piece of this puzzle, an untapped – but seemingly obvious – opportunity to apply the basic principles of value preservation and best use. and optimal materials. The two-year initiative was launched in collaboration between the San Francisco Department of the Environment, Stop Waste and Arup to help the developers, owners and tenants of the Bay Area’s largest portfolio holders increase reuse of commercial building materials.

Given the high turnover of startup office spaces adjacent to Silicon Valley, the group, structured as a network of building professionals, is focused on managing waste related to leasehold improvements. In Class A office space, the combination of short-term leases and high turnover from startups that quickly overtake their space or burn quickly creates a significant amount of barely used materials that are currently being treated as waste. waste.

Infrastructure must be a precursor to any policy.

“One of the reasons I’m so excited about the All for Reuse Alliance is that it’s about the infrastructure of a network, a network of providers and recipients,” Mr. ‘Eden Brukman, Senior Green Buildings Coordinator at SF Environment, said in a recent panel. at VERGE 21.

“While this idea works at the systems level, the work that needs to be done has to be at the regional level,” Frances Yang, Structures and Sustainability Specialist at Arup, explained during the panel. “People have to be close to each other and these materials have to be incorporated into projects that have a certain closeness to each other. “

Earlier this year, the city of San Francisco received a grant from the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance to fund an online building products exchange in the Bay Area, which can serve as a model for other regions. The exchange is built by asset management startup Rheaply and is expected to launch next year.

“Infrastructure has to be a precursor to any policy,” Brukman told the VERGE audience. “Ultimately, we would like to see a policy on rescue and reuse, but we need the network. First we need to have the virtual infrastructure, inventory capabilities and a physical location to help. to fix this problem. “