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As part of WorldGBC’s work to tackle the climate crisis and advance sustainable development, Circularity Accelerator is a WorldGBC global programme to accelerate the adoption of circular economy and resource efficiency in the building and construction sector.

The world is currently only 7.2% circular.

The built environment is responsible for half of global resource use and even if we fully decarbonise tomorrow, we will only remove 55% of the source of GHG emissions. The other 45% comes from the production and consumption of resources and materials, which can only be achieved through a circular economy (view further resources from the Ellen Macarthur Foundation).

WorldGBC recognises the circular economy as key to the world transitioning to an existence which is kept within planetary boundaries, as well as regenerating natural systems. For the built environment, this should be implemented through the following four principles: 

  • Reduction in consumption of materials and resources
  • Optimisation of lifespan for material and product use
  • Design for reuse and the elimination of waste
  • Regeneration of nature.

That’s why WorldGBC’s Circularity Accelerator programme convenes our network of over 75 Green Building Councils (GBCs) and their 46,000 members to work towards our circularity and resource efficiency goals. This global programme aspires to create a built environment with net zero whole life resource depletion, working towards the restoration of resources and natural systems within a thriving circular economy, in line with the ambitions of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.

WorldGBC and our partners are committed to working towards a circular future for the building and construction sector, which will require transformative action from all stages of the built environment value chain. In order to facilitate this cross-sector collaboration, the Circularity Accelerator programme is leading the creation and distribution of technical knowledge on the circular economy, championing the wider recognition of the topic through thought leadership, actively upskilling our global network and wider industry through training and education, and supporting regulatory strengthening through political advocacy and through the GBCs deployment of rating tools. 

The Circular Environment Playbook 

The ‘Circular Built Environment Playbook’ report, launched by WorldGBC in May 2023, presents market-leading circular principles and strategies in action, calling on the building and construction sector to accelerate the implementation of circular and regenerative principles. Find out more 

Towards a Circular Economy in the Built Environment

The Circular Buildings Coalition has released a report called ‘Towards a Circular Economy in the Built Environment’, which examines the systemic challenges to accelerating the circular transition in the construction sector in Europe, and what can be done to overcome them.


Building a Water-Resilient Future

The ‘Building a Water-Resilient Future‘ was launched by WorldGBC on 15 November. The publication outlines the role of the building and construction sector in tackling the global water crisis. It is predicted that by 2030, there will be a 40% gap between global fresh water supply and demand, with the built environment being responsible for around 15% of freshwater use.

  1. Why we must adopt circularity in the built environment to achieve a regenerative balance

In this thought leadership article, Foster + Partners, a founding partner of the Circularity Accelerator programme, unpacks key terminology around the circular economy, whole life carbon and regeneration, and brings this to life with built environment case studies. 

2. The past can teach us a lot about circularity – and not always what you expect

“It is easy to feel like you’re going round in circles when talking about a circular built environment. Isn’t it somehow contradictory to design buildings for the longest life possible, while also ensuring that they can be disassembled when they become obsolete? Or to propose that the future lies with modular systems, when the past tells us that long-span structures tend to be easier to adapt and reuse? Or to call for “loose fit” buildings when they usually need more structural materials, increasing their embodied carbon?” Find out more on how WSP reflects on these questions. 

3. Circular Economy in the built environment waste hierarchy: Why recycling is the last resort

In this article, CBRE shares their knowledge and reflections on how taking steps towards zero waste and addressing Scope 3 emissions means moving material consumption from linear to circular. Finding solutions upstream to create added value for businesses and communities rather than solutions to dispose of materials at the end of life, requires connecting stakeholders through the lifecycle of a project and having a plan for what will happen at the building’s end of life. 

4. Stop digging the holes

“Data is the new currency for net zero and represents one of the biggest opportunities for achieving a sustainable Built Environment. Data insights enable better choices and greater efficiencies, and bring systems, processes, workflows and people together to collaborate for a better-built result.” In this blog, Vinzero reflects on the challenges and opportunities in retrofitting and how data is key to achieve decarbonisation.

WorldGBC is one of six core partners of the Circular Buildings Coalition (CBC), an initiative that aims to accelerate the adoption of the circular economy principles across the European building and construction sector, working in partnership with Arup, Circle Economy, Metabolic, The Ellen Macarthur Foundation and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), and supported by the Laudes Foundation. 

Through the CBC, the partners are delivering reports and funding projects to overcome market, finance and ownership challenges. Find out more 

Chris Trott, Partner and Head of Sustainability, Foster + Partners said: 

“Our work has shown there is a direct correlation between GHG emissions and material use, therefore if we are to succeed in reducing our emissions in line with the global commitment to fulfil the Paris Agreement, and to avoid the adverse impacts of resource extraction on health, wellbeing, biodiversity and natural ecology, we must reduce the resource consumption associated with the built environment. We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with WGBC on this important initiative, which will help generate a better understanding of the issues and how to engage with them in a consistent and impactful way.”

Dr. Anna Braune, Director Research and Development, German Sustainable Building Council, said:

“Circularity in the built environment is THE strategy to secure resources and materials for future generations. Our current economies can only transform into circular economies with new local, regional and global forms of collaboration and trust.”

Phil Kelly, Director, Head of Sustainability for Buildings UK Ramboll said:

“To deliver the impact circularity can have, collaboration across the supply chain is absolutely essential. This is why Ramboll is proud to be a Global Partner for the WGBC’s Circularity Accelerator programme. We look forward to working together through this platform to deliver the much needed tools and thought leadership to regional industry networks across the globe.”

Jorge Chapa, Head of Market Transformation at Green Building Council Australia said:

“The age of the circular economy is here, and the built environment has an enormous opportunity to contribute to its development. I’m looking forward to working with my peers across the WorldGBC to establish a global pathway for our industry.

David Symons, UK Director of Sustainability at WSP, said:

“Flexible, adaptable, long-life buildings suit occupiers, give increased yields for owners and are better for the environment. WSP is delighted to support this WorldGBC programme and look forward to showing how circular principles in buildings is a practical design approach, not some abstract green philosophy.”

Jack Dinning, Materials Specialist Project Manager, Brightworks Sustainability said:

“Moving the built environment from a supply chain to a supply circle will take systemic change and an unprecedented amount of collaboration. It is time to take immediate action in executing circular strategies and scale localised models for circularity into regional and global circular economies, one project and relationship at a time. Brightworks Sustainability is proud to join the WGBC’s Circularity Accelerator to showcase the work of our visionary clients and collaborators as part of this effort.”

WorldGBC’s network is united in advocating for an aligned pathway to urgently reduce global resource consumption. This cannot be achieved without intensive and innovative collaboration to bring about meaningful change within our global built environment industry.

Together we can re-imagine cities as vibrant systems that operate public services more efficiently, improve how buildings are used, review city transport and more — all as part of a sustainable, efficient, regenerative circular economy.

To explore partnership and collaboration opportunities with the Circularity Accelerator programme, please contact Carolina Montano Owen, Circularity Accelerator Programme Coordinator, World Green Building Council at 

Participating Green Building Councils

Global Programme Partners

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Technical Report Partners