Circularity in the built environment: A focus on India
The built environment operates in a linear way where large amounts of non-renewable resources are used to feed the growing and rapid city building activities taking place globally, particularly in the Asia Pacific and Latin American regions. Recent estimates from the World Bank (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2017, p. 4) indicate that over half of the world’s population will live in urban areas, whilst providing over 80 percent of global GDP generation.
Building and construction uses 36 percent of energy consumption, produces 40 percent waste and estimated approximately 40 percent carbon dioxide emissions (GABC, 2017). ‘Achieving Growth’ (Ellen MacArthur Foundation 2017, p.12) has identified 115 billion euros investment opportunities in the built environment for designing and constructing buildings based on circular principles, closing the loop on building construction and demolition materials, and building circular cities. This paper focuses on India as an emerging economy. It discusses the potential of placing the country on a path of circularity with reference to the built environment. Two case studies are used to demonstrate examples of as-yet untapped upscaling potential of integrating principles of circularity. It offers opportunities to increase knowledge in the sector, develop mainstreaming platforms from fragmented examples, and most importantly decoupling economic growth with resource consumption. By sharing these learnings, the key value drivers of increasing life cycles of the asset from multiple functional perspectives, increasing utilization and expanding regenerative potentials in an increasingly digitized world are highlighted.