Are We Building Our Way Towards A Sustainable Future?
This blog post is a bit more technical than what I normally put up but as part of the sustainability angle of the blog, it's important that we look at things going on in industry as well as changing behaviours. So for those of you out there are that want to understand a bit more about sustainability, which has become a little bit of a buzz word these days, give this post a go!
A big part of sustainability is centred upon the circular economy (CE) (or as my brother blandly put it, basically recycling), which is a model that aims to keep all materials and products within a closed loop cycle. This means that we move away from a system that revolves around the ‘make-take-dispose’ mentality and move towards one that is more ‘reduce-reuse-recycle’. So, see it really isn’t as complicated as it may seem and it is something that everyone become involved in, from your everyday actions to projects on a bigger scale.
So far on the blog we’ve focused heavily on sustainability in the fashion industry because it's one of the fields that I'm really interested in, but other industries are also working hard to make a change.
If you read my post 'What Happened To Monday? The film that makes us ask some serious questions about population growth’ you know that we can’t address the issue of overpopulation without looking at its affects on urbanization, which is where the infrasture industry comes in. Whilst the infrastructure industry may not be the first industry that jumps to mind when thinking of sustainability, it plays a huge role in the journey towards sustainable development, not only does it accommodate to our needs but it is also essential in helping move towards a more sustainable future as the population booms.
This is pretty interesting because when most people think of something that’s been around as long as our transport system couldn't possibly utilise the circular economy in a way that fast fashion that consists of rapid cycles and trends, but the infrastructure industry is one of the biggest consumers of material resources in the economy. Europe sends 60% of waste to landfill or incineration, a figure set to increase to 80% by 2020, with figures like this it is time we started to take a serious look at our infrastructure techniques.This is why many companies are taking actions towards making buildings greener to reduce their impact on their surroundings.
Today, we're shining the spotlight on a recent project between multinational company Crossrail and LOOP, a start up with a focus on CE in construction. Crossrail Ltd has teamed up with LOOP to develop a sharing platform capable of listing and searching for currently owned material assets by individuals and companies.
What does this really mean? Well, it means that rather than buying new equipment you can simply ‘loan’ it from your local tradesman. For example if you need a excavator i.e. the huge machine that digs up the ground, instead of buying a new one that you may only use once a year you can instead 'loan' it from a local tradesman at a set cost. If successful, this is not only beneficial to both parties in the monetary sense but also increases material efficiency as the machine is used to its full potential by several users, and owners are more inclined to invest in machinery upkeep in order to maintain business. The increased shared machinery (and material) usage means that products remain in a closed loop system, reducing waste and promoting up cycling.
Whilst this concept may not be new in mainstream teams, it is something that has not previously been explored in the construction industry and LOOP discovered that a demand such programmes exists. Prior to developing the network, LOOP found that a number of informal personal networks already existed through which the exchange of material products would occur, demonstrating that a desire for behaviour change regarding how we view materials is there.
By creating a platform through which users can share equipment, the burden of up-front investments are reduced and there is an increased focus on repairs and maintenance of equipment as opposed to instant disposal. The work by LOOP with a well known company like Crossrail highlight that sustainability and the circular economy are being recognised in a big way, making the future look hopeful.
When you think of sustainability, which companies or industries spring to mind that you find inspiring or think could strive to improve their current practices.