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How can the circular economy respond to the challenges of sustainable development and the increasing scarcity of land within metropolitan areas?


It is estimated that the construction sector is responsible for 36% of energy consumption in the world and 33% of total waste production in the European Union.

Of the 42 million tonnes of waste and rubble produced each year by the construction industry, less than 1% is recycled. This assessment, however damning, is one that can be reversed, as various stakeholders across the profession have begun implementing concrete actions in the field. The increasing urbanisation of metropolitan areas means that land is becoming scarcer and has as such, prompted a reflection on the building and the city. The circular economy, which has the ultimate objective of boosting sustainable development, implies a profound change in the way resources are consumed, the aim of which is to build sustainable and regenerative assets. 

Towards responsible design: planning, adapting and recycling

The fundamentals of the circular economy mean new economic perspectives. Reducing energy consumption, reusing materials, prioritising short and local circuits, extending the lifespan of buildings and recycling materials are all part of a policy in line with our ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) criteria.

We must therefore pre-empt what the lifespan of our buildings and their equipment will look like, while at the same time remaining vigilant of their upkeep and maintenance. Knowing how to make a building flexible and adaptable, foreseeing how it will be used in the future, allowing for the adaptation of spaces and avoiding its equipment become obsolete, are all collective challenges that require the actions of everyone. Finally, it seems obvious to promote the use of different construction techniques in order to recover, reuse or recycle in an efficient and responsible manner.

The health crisis has shown that offices remain essential for both employers and employees, but their cost is very real and must be optimised according to their value. The office must meet the needs of its tenants in the present moment. However, it must also be capable of offering more; a food court area open to the public, a mobility hub, a storage space, a sports centre, a co-working space or a youth hostel, buildings must not be so easily defined. This approach is part of a strategy to open up how buildings are used, allowing investors to have more resilient assets that fit in with the circular economy. These considerations must be implemented right from the design phase of a building. Today, health standards require new layouts and so we do not know if they will last and how they will evolve. It becomes therefore unthinkable to destroy and rebuild with every change we experience, for both economic and ecological reasons. 

Le Booster du réemploi (Boosting recycling) will support each project by engaging stakeholders to use recycled materials. The aim is that in three years the way of using and interacting with recycled materials in construction will be profoundly changed.

Thomas Charvet
Managing Director Commercial Property Development at BNP Paribas Real Estate.

BNP Paribas Real Estate: ambassador and advocate for recycling materials

From 14th- 17th September, some thirty investors, developers and occupiers - including BNP Paribas Real Estate - launched a scheme to reflect on how best to recycle materials from construction sites, entitled Le Booster du réemploi (Boosting recycling). This is the biggest initiative in favour of the circular economy on construction sites. Starting from the viewpoint that it is no longer possible to work in a vacuum, we must now bring together our know-how and face up to the climatic and societal challenges ahead. A strong signal that the real estate sector is fully committed to energy transition.

The signatories have undertaken to use recycled materials from old buildings that have been demolished across 150 sites. These committed players will be able to specify the materials they will need for their projects on a dedicated platform beforehand. We have therefore committed ourselves to Metropolitan Square (87,000 sq. m. mixed-use programme in Lille), 17&Co (18,000 sq. m. of office space, youth hostel hotel in Saint-Ouen), Boulevard des Dames in Marseille (10,000 sq. m. of hotel and office space), Gagarine (98 housing units in Romainville), and finally Zellige (13,500 sq. m. of office space in Rueil-Malmaison).

Le Booster du réemploi (Boosting recycling) will support each project by engaging stakeholders to use recycled materials. The aim is that in three years the way of using and interacting with recycled materials in construction will be profoundly changed. This will involve working in collaboration with the "team members" and "designers" of construction sites; architects, designers, engineering and design departments, control offices, technical managers, companies and committed industrialists. An online platform designed by Fabernovel will make it possible to centralise and standardise the needs for recyclable materials, which are currently difficult for suppliers to identify: false floors, false ceilings, doors, lighting, carpeting, partitions, furniture, joinery, plumbing, etc.

Métal 57, another symbol of responsible and sustainable real estate

As a developer, our Commercial Property Development business line has been working on Métal 57, our future headquarters. This building, which was formerly a Renault factory was built in 1984 by the renowned 20th century industrial architecture, Claude Vasconi. "The project will demolish, conserve and restore about 50% of the existing building, whilst adding an extension, all forming a building complex of about 37,000 m² in surface area". The idea being to deconstruct, conserve and recycle materials such as bricks, as well as the structure of the building in an eco-responsible approach, whilst preserving its heritage. A strong symbol of our commitment and values.


Bilan Mondial 2019 « Pour un secteur du bâtiment et de la construction à émissions nulles, efficace et résilient », Alliance Mondiale des Bâtiments et de la Construction (GABC), Agence Internationale de l’Energie (IEA), Programme des Nations Unies pour l’Environnement (UNEP), 2019. Le Moniteur, 02/10/2020