At this stage a first big step is to share the circular economy concept with our clients, agree on a common language, and showcase positive case studies. Next step would be to baseline an organisation or project’s position and work together to define achievable goals in line with circular economy principles and where the costs and savings could come. It’s about totally changing the mindset and clients I speak to are becoming excited about the concept.
BR: Have you seen examples of projects built according to circular economy principles?
VP: Hans Hammink of Architekten Cie in The Netherlands was one of my co-presenters at the ULI event. He showed us a recent example of his work, the Circl project in Amsterdam, the first constructed example of circular design. It’s a very attractive, practical building, even though there were challenges, such as finding enough recycled timber for the floors, but it demonstrates the benefits and the possibilities of the approach. He is also one of the creators of the Building Passport, which I find extremely interesting. Working with BIM
, you can create a model linked to circular data that describes the quantity and type of material of each component of the building, from the structural
elements right down to the screws.
BR: Finally, Valentina, where did your passion for waste avoidance begin?
VP: I’m an architect by background and for the first 10 years of my career in Europe I’ve been focused on implementing solar passive design strategies and energy-saving solutions to my projects, aiming to minimise the environmental footprint. Waste avoidance and water minimisation has always played a key role in the overall picture.
Six years ago, I moved with my family from Italy to Australia and we landed in Perth. While working there as an architect, I joined a local environmental group to get to know the new country and engage with the community where we were living. There I realised that waste is a very good starting point for people who aren’t familiar with sustainability and related topics, because garbage is visible and with a minimal money investment, like buying a reusable coffee cup or shopping bags, we can see the benefits of our actions.
I became really interested in community behavioural change, starting the conversation with waste as the entry point, then going to more complicated topics such as energy-saving design for homes, renewables, and so on. I was also very struck by the wastefulness I was seeing in the local construction industry. I was shocked to see a tall, 15-storey building knocked down in a day – so different from in Italy where we have a strong tradition of building conservation and restoration.
Eventually, I was able to combine my architectural background with my passion for eliminating waste and promoting best environmental practises in the property industry working as Senior Environmental Consultant for a boutique consultancy firm first and then joining WSP early last year, where I’m really excited to continue my journey to promote the circular economy in the built environment