As a firm, Arup has always believed design and engineering should have social value and that a successful firm is one that acts responsibly. In today’s world of limited resources, this means that leaders in the built environment have a duty to engage with the idea of a circular economy that is restorative and regenerative by design, and which aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest use and value at all times.
Arup is already pursuing tangible initiatives in support of circular economy principles, including:
• Designing for resource efficiency in construction, designing out waste and using sustainable construction materials
• Using building information modelling (BIM) for improving construction productivity, asset performance management and providing material passports
• Designing buildings to be modular, flexible, upgradeable, resource productive and ultimately circular
• Applying sensor technology in structural health monitoring systems for infrastructure projects facilitating predictive maintenance and prolonging the service life of assets
• Using innovative materials and solutions such as biopolymers in façades and bioreactor algae for renewable energy generation
• Exploring how additive manufacturing (3D printing) can improve material and construction productivity
• Promoting Cities Alive – rethinking green infrastructure and integrated city planning
• Creating closed loop material flows and eliminating waste
Circular economy ideas, like designing and building for resource efficient construction, adaptability, high productivity and low structural waste, represent a major shift in mind-set and behaviour for the built environment industry.
Arup has already started to identify ways that clients’ goals can be achieved, aligned to the emerging requirements of a circular economy. At every stage of the project lifecycle, from design to procurement to construction, through refurbishment and deconstruction, the firm believes that there are many opportunities to adopt and embed circular economy practices.