What is the Circular Signature of a building?

The Circular Signature® is an innovative method to evaluate and optimize the use of resources in the building sector. It is part of acircular economy to reduce the carbon footprint, promote the reuse of materials and the use of Cradle to Cradle certified products and materials®. This article explains in detail what the Circular Signature® is, its indicators and how it applies to buildings, particularly in the framework of the European Taxonomy.

Definition of the Circular Signature

The Circular Signature® measures the carbon footprint, the level of non-toxicity, the degree of circularity and the share of reused, recycled and bio-based products. It allows to certify the environmental quality of a new, renovated or existing building.

The Circular Signature® can also be used to calculate the residual economic value of a building or a deposit (i.e., the income recoverable from the sale of materials at the end of their useful life). It is expressed – in high and low assumptions – as a function of the acquisition cost.

The Circular Signature® is the European reference for circular indicators.

The pillars of the Circular Signature

The Circular Signature® is based on four pillars that cover the different stages of a building’s life cycle:

  1. Circular design (or eco-design): This involves adopting circular economy principles from the design phase, such as the choice of recyclable materials, modularity or even the reversibility of spaces. Circular design aims to facilitate the reuse and recycling of materials during the deconstruction of the building.
  2. The reuse of materials: The reuse consists in reusing materials from the deconstruction of other buildings, without transforming them. This preserves the value and quality of resources, while reducing the CO2 emissions associated with the production of new materials.
  3. The circular economy: Unlikethe traditional linear economy, which follows the “extract, make, use, throw away” model, the circular economy aims to minimize waste and resource use by optimizing their life cycle. This business model encourages the reuse, recycling, upcycling and regeneration of materials and products, thereby reducing the carbon footprint and environmental impacts associated with the construction and operation of buildings.
  4. Environmental and health performance: Environmental and health performance takes into account the impact of materials and equipment on health and the environment throughout their life cycle. It covers aspects such as CO2 emissions, energy consumption and waste management.
  5. Traceability of materials: The traceability of materials is essential to guarantee the quality and conformity of the resources used in a building. It ensures that materials are sustainably sourced and meet the requirements of the European taxonomy and green finance.

Circular Signature® Indicators

The Circular Signature® is measured using several key indicators that reflect aspects of circularity and environmental performance of a building. These indicators include:

  1. Carbon footprint: This is the carbon footprint of the production of the resources of a building or housing stock, from the extraction of raw materials to the final integration of the product, including all intermediate manufacturing stages.
  2. The degree of non-toxicity: This is the proportion of products in a building or a housing stock that do not contain CMR substances (Carcinogenic, Mutagenic, Reprotoxic) and whose VOC emissions (Volatile Organic Compounds) are controlled for a better indoor air quality.
  3. Circularity rate: This is the proportion of products in a building or building stock that contain recycled materials and have defined next lives.
  4. The residual economic value of a building’s used resources: These are the savings or revenues potentially generated through the circular management of used resources leaving the building or building stock.

How to generate a Circular Signature®for a building ?

The importance of data for real estate inventory

To carry out a detailed inventory of a property and calculate its carbon footprint, it is essential to have accurate and reliable data on the materials and equipment used. These data allow us to evaluate the environmental performance of buildings and to determine areas for improvement to optimize their circularity.

These data can be complicated to find but to overcome this problem, Upcyclea has invented the Circular Passport® concept. It is the identity card of the product or material declared and managed by its manufacturer. All Circular Passports are centralized in the Circular Passport Library (free registration).

The Circular Passport Bookstore® : a unique source to characterize a heritage

The Circular Passport Library® is the only solution that allows you to efficiently characterize your real estate assets. The Bookstore offers a comprehensive and structured database that gathers detailed information on materials and equipment used in buildings, as well as their environmental performance.

Each Circular Passport® contains information such as composition, non-toxicity, recycled/biosourced content, next lives, LCAs, labels… Concatenated in the owner’s digital material bank, this information allows the calculation of the Circular Signature® of a building and the definition of actions to be implemented to improve its circularity.

With the Circular Passport® Library, building professionals and investors have a powerful and reliable tool to evaluate and optimize the environmental performance of their real estate assets. This unique solution thus helps support the transition to a circular economy and reduce the carbon footprint of the building sector.

How to use the
Circular Signature
® ?

The use of the Circular Signature offers advantages in different contexts, such as European Taxonomy and real estate management.

In the context of the European Taxonomy, the Circular Signature® is used to evaluate the embodied carbon footprint reduction efforts and the environmental performance of a building or complex. By determining a starting point, stakeholders can track progress and develop strategies to decarbonize and improve the circularity of their assets. It also allows us to produce reliable and relevant indicators for ESG reports.

In addition, the Circular Signature® is a useful tool for investors who want to ensure the sustainability of their investments. By assessing the circularity and environmental performance of the projects they are considering for financing, investors can direct their decisions towards initiatives that are aligned with the objectives of the European Taxonomy and promote an environmentally friendly economy.

For building professionals, the Circular Signature® can be used at all stages of a project:

  • During the Pre-Project phase, the Circular Signature® helps to perform different simulations to select the products with the best circular performance.
  • During the execution phase, it is used to control the quality and conformity of the installed products.
  • At the end of the delivery phase, the Circular Signature® guarantees the “as built” environmental performance required by the owner.

Thus, the Circular Signature® is a key tool to support the transition to a circular economy in the building sector but also to participate in the growth of a green finance.

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