As part of World Architecture Day, the Ordre des Architectes et des Ingénieurs-Conseils (OAI), in collaboration with Luxinnovation, organised an event on 7 October entitled”Construction – Circular Economy: How to support business innovation”.

This included a broad assessment of the development of circular projects in the construction sector. The fact is that the construction of an intelligent, sustainable and resilient living environment, in conjunction with circular projects, form elements of sustainability that are based both on innovation (recovery of raw materials and materials, high energy performance of buildings, etc.) and on working methods (digitalisation).

“It is essential to build bridges between research and development and innovation, the circular economy and construction for the well-being of all,” said Jos Dell, President of the OAI. To which Sasha Baillie, CEO of Luxinnovation, replied that “For us, construction = circular economy = innovation: the three concepts are inseparable. Innovation is not necessarily technological. It may also involve challenging product design processes to meet ecological standards or be part of a circular economy approach. It can also mean reducing waste and better positioning to focus on long-term objectives, rather than always responding to emergencies as they arise.

Three clusters on the front line

The implementation of the principles of circular economy is a matter for everybody. This is why no less than three Luxinnovation clusters were present at this event: Wood, CleanTech and Creative Industries.

Philippe Genot, manager of the Luxembourg Wood Cluster, highlighted the importance of regional value chains that cut across the entire timber sector, while showing the opportunities and challenges related to digitalisation and Industry 4.0 prefabrication techniques.

Charles-Albert Florentin, manager of the Luxembourg CleanTech Cluster, specifically addressed the subject of deconstruction.

“The Circular Economy finds its place in the entire construction value chain, from building design, planning, construction, operation and deconstruction. On the latter, the implementation of physical and virtual platforms would make it possible to give new life to the products and materials resulting from selective deconstruction”.

Finally, Marc Lis, manager of the Luxembourg Creative Industries Cluster, explained the principle of “Design for Circularity” in order to carry out cross-sectoral projects. “The industry is in need of sustainable solutions to face many ecological challenges. Part of the answer lies in circular design, but it is a collective effort that requires integrating other sectors and encouraging exchanges of skills, in order to achieve an intelligent and sustainable solution.

A legal framework to be adapted

During the round table that followed, Claude Turmes, Minister for Energy and Minister for Spatial Planning, also highlighted the importance of a collaborative and transversal approach. “Sustainability is not an isolated issue. It must be considered alongside other subjects such as health, mobility, but also social life. An eco-neighbourhood made in Luxembourg must be a sustainable territory”.

According to Marc Feider, Vice-President of the OAI and President of the National Council for Sustainable Construction, “the circular economy in construction is only one element of sustainable construction. This area requires attention to several other aspects, such as ecology, health and economics. The great difficulty lies in the measurability of these different aspects.”

Beyond the need for “transversal” coordination in project implementation, collaboration across the value chain is also essential. “The whole sector must move forward together, in the same direction,” said Sala Makumbundu, Secretary General of the OAI.

“There must be close collaboration between planners and companies from the very beginning in the planning phase of a project. And innovation, precisely, will be fostered by all parties working together.”

All this obviously implies some changes in the way things work, even in the legal and administrative framework. “Currently our ecosystem (standards, regulations, etc.) is still very linear, it is something that needs to be changed,” explained Christian Tock, Director Sustainable Technologies at the Ministry of the Economy. “In addition, it is necessary to have a better visibility on supply and demand and that is why we are finalising a study conducted with the Luxinnovation CleanTech cluster to better assess the demand of public/private law enforcement agencies and the offer of companies, as well as their suitability. Luxembourg is already very advanced and is one of the better practitioners in Europe. We have know-how that also needs to be better communicated and exported abroad. »

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