Duncan Baker Brown inside the Brighton Waste House

University of Brighton helps to shape city’s vision of the future

Brighton & Hove Council have published a Route Map outlining a Circular Economy strategy to 2035 – drawing on key input from the University of Brighton.

Brighton architecture lecturer Duncan Baker-Brown has been a global pioneer in innovative ways to cut the huge amount of waste and carbon emissions that afflict current building construction. At present, this contributes a massive 40% of overall global CO2 emissions and at least a third of the world’s waste.

Among Duncan’s groundbreaking projects is the Brighton Waste House on the University’s The Waste House exteriorCity campus. Europe’s first permanent public building made almost entirely from discarded materials, it continues to provide a testbed for how materials can be reused effectively in the built environment over the long-term.

Duncan is also the author of The Re-Use Atlas, an influential detailed guide for designers of all sorts in putting circular economy into action via four key principles: recycling, reuse, reduce, closed loop. Originally published in 2019, Duncan is currently preparing a new, updated second edition.

For the new Brighton & Hove Circular Economy Routemap and Action Plan, Duncan kickstarted the process of raising awareness within the Council around ways to minimise waste by hosting workshops in 2018 for over 140 council officers, guiding people in how to look anew at practices in the city, as well as showing  practical steps to creating a ‘circular economy’ model that will slash greenhouse emissions by different sectors in the city.

Duncan helped edit the city’s new Circular Economy Routemap, which sets out an action plan behind a sustainable green growth strategy to 2035, from construction to food, textiles, plastics and electronics. This builds on the council’s programme to make the city Carbon Neutral by 2030. Brighton & Hove was also the first UK council to commit to a One Planet Action Plan.

Key elements in the Routemap and Action Plan that will start immediately include undertaking Circular Economy assessment and evaluation of all council new build housing construction projects,  as well as developing ways to monitor embodied carbon in all new build developments, in order to increase the adoption of low-carbon, circular construction practices in the private housing sector. By 2030, project briefs will specify at least 60% of all materials used in new build housing projects will need to be recoverable at the buildings’ end of life.

Duncan Baker-Brown, Principal Lecturer in University of Brighton’s School of Architecture, Technology and Engineering,  said: “I believe it will be cities and regions that give us hope in the climate emergency, not governments preoccupied with numerous other ‘big issues’. With over 80% of people in the UK living in cities, places like Brighton & Hove can be the main drivers for change, showing how to power a successful Circular Economy.

The Routemap and Action Plan will help the city move away from a ‘take, make, consume and throw-away’ society towards one that minimises waste and pollution, keeps products and materials in use for as long as possible and supports the regeneration and protection of natural resources.”

Councillor Phelim Mac Cafferty, Brighton & Hove City Council Leader, said: “Brighton & Hove is proudly leading the way in making the transition to what are known as Circular Economy practices.

A Circular Economy is about helping to end wasteful practices while designing out waste from the outset. It’s about doing more with less, and preventing overconsumption while restoring nature. Crucially, it’s one of the key ways we’ll tackle the climate crisis.”

The Brighton & Hove Circular Economy Routemap and Action Plan also draws on input from research and innovation practice SOENECS Ltd., Circular Brighton & Hove, and University of Sussex.

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