With all the sustainable initiatives and cradle-to-cradle innovations emerging from one of the smallest countries in the world, The Netherlands, the hope that this country will one day run an entirely circular economy is becoming more of a reality. However, there is still little progress in one of the most wasteful sectors in terms of recycling: the building sector.
In a circular economy, the creation of products is based on a model of holistic; closed-loop designs and slowed supply chains. Currently, our economy operates in a linear fashion, meaning that we gain resources, use them, and dispose of them. The building sector is one of the sectors that contribute most to this waste of resources. To minimize the negative effects on the environment caused by the building sector, the buildings themselves need to become circular.
Circular buildings are made from recycled resources or are constructed in a way that whenever they don’t need it, they can be separated and reused easily. This ecological way of construction optimises material efficiency since waste products are scheduled for reuse at the end of their operational lifecycle. Circular buildings, therefore, rely on a well-coordinated supply chain collaboration since the waste material of one project is the building block of another.
The circular Binnenhof
The political heart of the Netherlands, The Hague, intends to be completely circular by 2050. Since the circular economy relies heavily on supply chain cooperation, a symbolic building in this city can act as a strong message in promoting, and jumpstarting, the circular business sector. The home of the parliament, the Binnenhof, is the most recognisable square in the Netherlands. In 2020, the Binnenhof is due for renovation. However, the current plan for renovating the Binnenhof has not been designed according to the principles of circular building.
Whereas data transparency is a building block for circular building, the Dutch government is known for practising disclosure of information in its administration. The renovation of the Binnenhof could, therefore, serve as an exemplary project for the principles of circular building. Due to its international esteem, there are few buildings that have as much potential toward changing the global status-quo as the Binnenhof.
Leising et al. (2018) show that there are five phases of establishing a circular building and supply chain collaboration.
To renovate the Binnenhof in a circular manner, all parties need to actively work on designing, maintaining and implementing this approach throughout the entire renovation process. A great example of how this can be done is The Circl. The Circl, an initiative of the ABN AMBRO bank, was built from an internal driving force to construct according to circular principles. This resulted in a building that was made entirely from recycled or easy to recycle materials. For example, the materials from old jeans were used to sound-proof the ceilings. The Circl also made use of non-traditional contracting: the manufacturer still owns the two elevators in the building. The slogan of the Cirl is: ‘right to copy’. So, take this as an example, and say hello to the first circular parliament building.