How the Construction Industry can Operate Sustainably: A New Way to Reduce Waste

Looking Towards a Sustainable Future – Reducing and Recycling Construction Waste

Fopefoluwa Bademosi


The construction industry accounts for nearly 40% of annual global carbon emissions. Growing environmental awareness has created the need to adopt sustainable and environmentally safe practices across multiple verticals, including construction.

Autodesk Research recently hosted a panel discussion with the Circular Economy Club on the topic of “Looking Towards a Sustainable Future – Reducing and Recycling Construction Waste.” On November 4, Dr. Hariharan Naganathan, Professor of Construction Management at the Wentworth Institute of Technology, joined Brandon Cramer, Research Manager at Autodesk, and me at the Autodesk Research Boston office. The three of us discussed the local action needed to create a greener, more equitable, and sustainable built environment.

The event was open to the public and 12 people attended, including those from engineering, construction, business development, design, government, and policy backgrounds. All were interested in learning more about how to implement circular economy principles in their company or organization.

Discussing the Impact of the Construction Industry on the Environment

During the panel discussion, we explored ways the construction industry could adopt more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices, including how to better use demolition waste. This waste can be used more effectively to create a sustainable by-product rather than dumping it in landfills.

The experts on the panel also discussed the power of the construction industry to be innovative, resilient, and socio-centered while respecting planetary boundaries and minimizing its negative environmental impact. We also highlighted changes required in the industry if the built environment is to half emissions by 2030 and discussed how the the country and the world will be impacted by the built environment’s inability to reduce waste and achieve holistic sustainability.

Local Action to make Global Change

Attendee Nghi Luu, a Senior Product Consultant at 6sense, found the event excellent in terms of networking. He found the presentation to be a great overview of the Circular Economy and how a shift towards a sustainable, human-centric, and resilient construction industry is integral to attaining a global circular economy.

“I realize how crucial it is for legislators and academics to be involved in ‘seeding’ and cultivating circularity principles and ideas and then reinforcing them through legislation and regulations,” said Nghi. “It needs to be a continuous process that cannot be done by one group of professionals.”

There was a consensus among attendees that when it comes to impactful change, there needs to be new legislation and government interventions that support and subsidize these innovations that promote sustainability and circularity in the built environment. However, global changes can only happen after we take action locally. How we live and work in our homes, communities, and cities can significantly impact how we tackle climate change from the ground up.

A More Sustainable Future

The journey to zero waste and zero emission construction is progressing. Critical players can benefit from this race if environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing is viewed as an opportunity. Through our technology, research, and education outreach, Autodesk is committed to empowering construction innovators to shape a better, thriving future.

Fopefoluwa Bademosi is a Circular Economy and Construction Researcher at Autodesk.  

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