Construction is among activities that consume a tremendous amount of resources. If lack of proper management, it may cause harmful environmental impacts. SCG is encouraging involved parties in the business, including real estate developers, building material developers, architects, and leading technology designers to participate and seek ways to revamp production process and service delivery that effectively maximizes resources in line with the Circular Economy concept in the discussion forum of “Transformation to the Circular Built Environment” at a recently held event “SD Symposium 10 Years: Collaboration for Action”
Clear Organizational Goals Are Key to Circular Economy
The committed determination and clear long-term business plan are vital components to truly make the Circular Economy and sustainable development a reality. Many companies have anchored this approach in a vision of the organization. Mr. Satoshi Suzuki, General Manager, Business Development Building Department, Obayashi Corporation, said that Obayashi has established a long-term environmental vision “Obayashi Sustainable Vision 2050” that it will put efforts to attain its 2040-2050 targets to achieve zero CO2 emissions in the entire Obayashi Group, promote the development of a society designed for well-being and co-create a sustainable supply chain as well as encouraging its partners to adopt the same practice.
The corporation also supports business development plans to deliver community-friendly business and services, life cycle management of infrastructure and communities and technology, and business innovation for the future society. As the clear goals are put in place, the joint actions will be undertaken by all sectors, leading to a real change.
Kickstart Circular Economy with Good Planning
The easiest construction waste-saving solution, according to the Circular Economy, is to have a well-designed plan to help estimate the required amount of construction materials to limit excessive waste generation.
Mr. Johannes Reischböck Chief Operating Officer & Director at BIMobject AB and Co-Founder of BIMobject AB, mentioned that the Building Information Modelling (BIM) has been incrementally gaining ground among designers and construction companies. The system can calculate the precise amount of materials required, providing effective cost estimation and minimizing construction waste generation.
The BIM implementation is a promising solution to construction demand driven by the rapid-growing population leading to a surge in housing demand in a condensed time. BIM enables designers and architects to assess the material specifications and a precise calculation, allowing them to experiment more freely with different material types without using real materials which may end up as waste.
Participants in the discussion agreed on the use of technology and innovation to virtually calculate and test the materials. Integrated with effective advanced planning, it can help reduce the waste generation in all steps from start to finish, making the Circular Economy a reality.
Use technology Combining the Power of Nature
Aside from using technology for the maximum efficiency, the design must not compromise the environmental impacts while promoting the harmonious coexistence between modern building, man and nature. This approach is also adopted by Mr. Sutha Ruengchaipaiboon, President of Magnolia Quality Development Corporation Limited (MQDC) who noted that a proper building structure planning and harmony with nature are crucial.
“If we make proper building orientation, we can save substantial energy. However, if it faces the wrong direction, it will cause poor air circulation resulting in increasing heat in the room at dusk. We harness the technology like BIM to assess wind flow direction and alter building designs to provide better air circulation for comfort living. This technology can improve about 15% of energy consumption in buildings. Imagine that if all ongoing residential construction projects in Bangkok in the area of 1 million square meters adopt such practices, how much energy can be saved?” said, Mr. Sutha.
Moreover, many parties have turned their focus on growing more trees to providing cooling in the city to combat the heat expelled from buildings in urban areas, resulting in Urban Heat Island Effect.
Strengthen with Collaboration
Mr. Prapakorn Vajayakul, Managing Director, ARCHITECTS 49 Limited, noted that good planning and collaboration of all related sectors are vital. He recalled his design project 20 years ago where he calculated a precise quantity of materials which only one steel bar left unused after the construction was complete.
“Apart from good planning, collaboration of all stakeholders is crucial. Manufacturers must responsibly handle generated waste even if the product is no longer on shelf. The homeowners, as consumers, must comply with the littering regulation. All parties complying with the practices should be rewarded with incentives such as tax returns to encourage more participation,” said Mr. Prapakorn.
The approach is in line with the notion of Mr. Nantapong Chantrakul, Managing Director of CPAC, a subsidiary of Cement – Building Materials Business, SCG. He said the company has been developed throughout the 60 years of operation and has accomplished to become “Construction Solution Provider.” He added that the effort to reduce waste or attain zero waste in construction requires the collaboration of all parties in the entire operation.
“Everyone is well aware of the environmental crisis. And everyone must participate in solving it. Therefore, we initiated the shift in mindset among employees, saying that they can mitigate such crises with their work. We need to closely work with our partners to seek the most efficient construction methods that can also minimize waste generation.”
Transform Waste to Wealth, Leading to Eco-Business
“Waste in our plant may be useful materials for other plants,” said Mr. Sutha Ruengchaipaiboon.
Each industry group can collaborate to create value for waste. A collaboration between CPAC and Magnolia Quality Development Corporation Limited (MQDC) has taken an approach to reuse waste materials to reduce the amount of waste. The goal is not to maximize profits, but rather to maintain a long-term urban ecological function and be environmentally responsible in the long run.
“This is an opportunity and duty of the real estate developer because we no longer construct a building just for today but for many decades to come. If you construct a building focusing merely on returns, you will fail,” noted Mr. Sutha Ruengchaipaiboon.
When the waste reduction process built upon cooperation begins to take shape, the next step after the production and consumption according to the principles of Circular Economy is to turn “waste” into “wealth.”
CPAC has adopted the concept “Waste to Wealth,” encouraging all involved parties to minimize waste generated by construction activities through several practices. Examples include cleaning and separating materials like stones mixed in the ready-mixed concrete for reuse, converting leftover materials to be used in other work process such as transforming the client’s remaining concrete into concrete floor to make playground or tables and chairs, and donated to temples or school, turning leftover of ready-mixed concrete into concrete plate before crunching it into powder and mixing with cement for the next construction project.
“The ‘Recycled Plastic Road’ in collaboration with Supalai Plc is another effort to churn concrete scraps e.g., cement pieces, floor plate, piles into an asphalt mixture for making roads. The initiative not only adds value to waste worth up to 7 million Baht in each project but also cut natural resource usage e.g., stone and sand by 100 tons per 150 sq.m. The approach helps reduce landfill disposal and mitigate soil, water, and air pollution caused by transportation. This is truly a collaboration toward establishing the Circular Economy since it can recycle construction leftovers that were merely used to fill up landfill sites for more meaningful work,” said Mr. Nantapong.
Apart from “Recycled Plastic Road,” other “waste” materials can also be turned into “wealth.” For example, SCG’s collaboration with Dow Thailand Group launched the project “Recycled Plastic Road” by turning plastic waste as mixture elements replacing asphalt to pave roads for projects of Amata Corporation Plc, SC Asset Corporation Plc, and CP All Plc.
Business people and real estate developers have collectively brainstorm to seek solutions harnessing innovation and technology tools with care for the environment. The commitment has inspired concrete plans in favor of Circular Economy and motivated others to expand the practice implementation, which will contribute toward sustainable development.
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