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News I published 20 June 2022

European architects are actively involved more in sustainability than in circularity

Buildings and building construction are major contributors to annual emissions of greenhouse gasses. Also, the construction sector is known to use vast amounts of resources and produce a lot of waste. Therefore, it is no surprise that sustainability and circularity are hot topics in the world of building construction, and the amount of initiatives to achieve a more sustainable and circular construction process is increasing.

A top-down example of such an initiative is the European Green Deal (EGD), which we discussed in a previous article. Most architects think the effect of this set of policies, which is built around the aim to achieve a climate-neutral European Union in 2050, will surely be felt in the construction sector. This shows attention for and effects of future aims, but what about the current level of sustainability and circularity in the construction sector?

Given their central role in and influential role throughout the building design and construction process, architects are not only excellent indicators of the impact of initiatives like the EGD on their sector, but also of the current level of sustainability and circularity in the European construction sector. That is why, for the Q1 2022 report of USP Marketing Consultancy’s European Architectural Barometer, we asked 950 architects from eight European countries to what extent their companies are actively involved in sustainable and circular construction.

Majority of European architects are actively involved in sustainable construction

On average, a 58% majority of European architects claim that their companies are actively involved in sustainable construction. Zooming in on specific countries, there are significant differences though. Dutch and UK architects are frontrunners, as four out of five architects report to be actively involved in sustainable construction. On the other side of the spectrum, only 28% of the Polish architects reported that their companies are actively involved in sustainable construction.

Involvement in circular construction is a lot smaller

Where it comes to being involved in circular construction, it is clear that circular construction is not as common as sustainable construction yet. Only 29% of European architects report that their companies are actively involved in circular construction. Again, the Dutch architects lead the way with 61% being actively involved in circularity. They are followed by Spain and Belgium, who are above the European average with 37% and 34% respectively. Polish architects are again least involved, with only 10% reporting to be actively involved in circular construction.

Awareness is key

In Europe, only 8% of architects reported to be unaware of the concept of sustainable construction and a quarter reported to be unaware of the circular construction concept. In Poland, with the lowest active involvement in both sustainability and circularity, 29% of architects was unaware of sustainability and 60% was unaware of circularity. In the Netherlands, however, all architects claimed to be aware of these concepts. This clearly indicates that where a concept is known more, it is likely that more architects will be involved in it.

The question remains what these architects are aware of exactly, though. Sustainability and circularity are broad terms that can be explained in different ways. To use the above information effectively, for instance for marketing campaigns targeting architects that care a lot about sustainability and circularity, awareness of how they explain the concepts and what they consider their most important aspects is key. For a full overview of architects’ awareness of, involvement in and ideas about sustainability and circularity, we refer you to the Q1 2022 report of USP Marketing Consultancy’s European Architectural Barometer.

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