Because Three R’s Are So Old School

“Are buildings in danger of becoming just another consumer good in our disposable society?"

Given how difficult it (still) is to convince clients to look at long term cost benefits instead of initial costs, it certainly seems like most of today’s buildings are the fast food of the built environment. A recent RIBA article describes a series of approaches to building design and construction that helps them see the 3R’s of waste management and raises them another 3 as a shift to the circular economy:

 
 

retain

remanufacture

REFIT

REFURBISH

RECLAIM/REUSE

RECYCLE/COMPOST

 
The figure above summarizes circular economy principles specifically for buildings, found in the RIBA Publishing book, Building Revolutions.

The figure above summarizes circular economy principles specifically for buildings, found in the RIBA Publishing book, Building Revolutions.


design principles mentioned:

Build in layers.
Design without waste.
Design more adaptable buildings.
Design for disassembly.
Carefully select building materials & products.


"Creating buildings that people love & value is a proven way to ensure longevity."

Another principle is to move away from the linear economy model of purchasing products. Instead, consumers can become users, with ownership replaced by stewardship. Customers purchase performance instead of products, which encourages manufacturers to take a vested interest in designing products that can be maintained, upgraded or recycled. This approach also helps secure a future supply of components and materials.
Applying circular economy principles to buildings uses fewer resources, enables adaptation for different uses and can even provide healthier environments for people to live and work in. But they also create an opportunity to design buildings that are not simply consumable goods, leaving a positive legacy for future generations. - RIBA Journal

*Speaking of waste. Here is a sobering thought:
The amount of plastic wastes on the planet today is enough to cover the planet with plastic.