The Role of the Circular Economy in Construction

As the world population continues to grow and urbanization rates increase, the construction industry will continue to play a vital role in meeting our ever-growing needs for housing, commercial space, and infrastructure. However, given the significant environmental impacts of the construction sector, there is a growing need to adopt practices that promote sustainable development. The circular economy is one such concept that has the potential to transform the construction industry and help it meet its sustainability goals. In this blog post, we’ll explore the circular economy and how it can be applied to construction.

What Is Circular Economy?

A circular economy is an alternative to the conventional linear economy, which uses resources to produce items and then discards them once they have been utilized. In a circular economy, resources are never wasted. Instead, they are either reused or recycled into the system to be used again and again. This closed-loop system mimics the way that natural ecosystems operate, and it has the potential to help us reduce our reliance on finite resources, minimize waste, and create a more sustainable future.

While the concept of a circular economy is still in its early stages of development, many businesses and organizations are already working to put it into practice. And as we continue to face challenges like climate change and resource depletion, the need for a circular economy will only become more urgent.

The Role of the Circular Economy in Construction

In construction, the term “circular economy” refers to an approach that aims to minimize waste and maximize resource efficiency. The goal is to design buildings and infrastructure that can be reused, remodeled, or recycled at the end of their lifespans. There are many potential benefits of adopting a circular economy approach in construction. For one, it can help reduce the environmental impacts of building projects. By reusing existing materials and products or recycling them into new ones, circular economy strategies can help reduce the need for virgin resources. This can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution from extraction and production processes.

Circular economic strategies can also boost economic activity. For example, reused and recycled materials often cost less than new ones, saving buyers and sellers money. In addition, remanufacturing and other forms of recycling can create jobs in the construction sector. While there are many potential benefits of the circular economy, some challenges also need to be addressed. For example, designing for reuse and recycling can add complexity to construction projects. Additionally, existing regulations and market conditions may not always be favorable to circular economy approaches. Despite these challenges, the circular economy is an important area of focus for the construction industry. By working to reuse, recycle, and prolong the life of materials and products, the industry can play a crucial role in protecting our environment and boosting our economy.

What Is Circular Construction?

The circular construction model aims to close the loop between building materials and waste. It starts with the idea of reuse long before the materials are used in a construction project. Once the materials are used, they are recycled or reused instead of being sent to a landfill. And finally, when the time comes to demolish the structure, the materials are recovered and used in another project. Circular construction is just a circular economy applied to construction.

What Are the 5 R’s of Circular Economy?

The 5 R’s of the circular economy are Refuse, Rethink, Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle. The concept of the circular economy is based on the principle of waste prevention, and the 5 R’s are a framework for thinking about ways to reduce waste. Rethinking means looking at the products and services we use daily and considering how they could be designed differently to prevent waste. For example, we could switch to reusable clothes instead of buying disposables like paper towels.

Refusing refers to choosing not to purchase items we don’t need or are unnecessarily packaged. For example, say no to those plastic shopping bags at the grocery store and bring your reusable bags instead. Reducing is about using less of the things we do need. We can do this by choosing products with less packaging, repairing items instead of replacing them, and finding ways to reuse things before throwing them away. Reusing means finding new ways to use things instead of throwing them away. For example, using an empty coffee can as a pencil holder or repurposing an old t-shirt into a cleaning rag.

Finally, recycling is about turning used materials into new products. This includes everything from recycling paper and glass to metals and plastics. By following the 5 R’s of the circular economy, we can all play a role in preventing waste and protecting our planet.

What Problems Does Circular Economy Solve?

One of the most pressing problems the circular economy addresses is resource scarcity. With a linear economy, we rely on continually extracting resources from the earth to make new products. This depletes our supplies of those resources and can lead to environmental degradation as we mine them. On the other hand, the circular economy relies on using and reusing resources instead of continually mining them. Another problem that the circular economy solves is waste. In a linear system, most products are only used for a short time before being discarded as waste. This waste then ends up in landfills, which take up space and emit greenhouse gases as it decomposes.

The circular economy seeks to close the loop in this process by designing products that can be reused or recycled instead of being thrown away. Overall, the circular economy offers a more sustainable way of doing business that could help to address some of the most pressing problems facing our planet today.


The circular economy relies on using and reusing resources instead of continually mining them and seeks to close the loop on waste by recycling or reusing materials instead of sending them to landfills. By following the 5 R’s of the circular economy, we can all play a role in preventing waste and protecting our planet.


Nicolle Portilla
Nicolle Portilla is RTS’s Social Media Manager, and has been a valued member of the team since July 2018. She is responsible for content creation on all platforms, leveraging creative software, industry trends and research, and social media strategy to build upon the company’s online presence. Additionally, Nicolle contributes to the RTS blog, which serves to educate clients and industry players about our technology and sustainability efforts, and is responsible for the creation and dissemination of our internal and external newsletters. Prior to taking on the role of Social Media Manager, Nicolle served on the Sustainability team for nearly three years, assisting clients in achieving their sustainability goals through external communications and event organizing. Preceding Nicolle’s time on the RTS team is her work with Clean Water Action, where she promoted clean water initiatives. Nicolle graduated from Stony Brook University in 2018 with a B.A. in Sustainability.