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Insights How can a circular built environment enhance and protect biodiversity?

Construction is one of the largest contributors to the US economy and residential and commercial buildings are responsible for nearly 40% of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions. Drastic measures are needed to tackle the built environment’s effect on biodiversity and a circular built environment is the first step towards providing a more sustainable future.

At Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group, we understand the pressing need to reduce emissions and protect the biodiversity of our ecosystems and we are no stranger to developing sustainable buildings. We’re dedicated to transforming society for future generations and we foster a culture where the brightest and most innovative minds come together to help us do it. Here, we discuss how a circular built environment can enhance and protect biodiversity.

skyscrapers covered in green plants

Reduces the demand for natural materials

The construction industry is one of the key sectors that is most dependent on natural resources, such as wood, stone, and clay for its materials. However, a reduction in demand for natural resources could have a substantial effect on biodiversity. As higher levels of biodiversity in and around urban areas provide a range of environmental and social benefits, including improved mental health, increased water quality, and much more, it should be in every project manager’s interest to lead a team that will work to limit the use of natural materials.

The reuse of existing buildings and materials can reduce the extraction and processing of raw materials, and improve the impacts brought about by the construction and demolition of buildings. This can be achieved by implementing circular environment ideas such as space sharing, refurbishing old buildings, and reusing and recycling construction materials. Additionally, where it is necessary that new resources are required, switching to renewable materials like timber or hemp can help create a built environment that preserves biodiversity and safeguards the health of ecosystems.

Slows urban sprawl

One of the key elements of a circular built environment is reducing the amount of urban sprawling and creating more compact environments that take the natural ecosystem into consideration. The built environment could benefit immensely from promoting compact urban environment planning where biodiversity is integrated.

Urban sprawl creates a loss of both rural and natural areas, having an adverse effect on biodiversity and ecosystem services, while increasing vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change. The rapid expansion of urban environments can result in the destruction of wildlife settlements and disrupt the habitats of various species. Urban sprawl also increases the use of material and energy, thus reducing resource efficiency while increasing the costs of developing and maintaining the built environment. By reducing the rapid nature of urban expansion, we can move towards a circular built environment and help to preserve our world’s biodiversity.

AtkinsRéalis Lavalin’s push for a sustainable future

At AtkinsRéalis , we understand the importance of taking significant steps towards sustainability; there is no second chance with our planet. That’s why we have made monumental strides on our sustainability journey in 2021. As signatories to the United Nations Global Compact, we have set a range of planet-saving goals, including pledging to become Net Zero Carbon by 2030. As part of the Race to Zero strategy, over the coming years we will:

  • Steadily streamline our real estate portfolio to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings and facilities,
  • implement digital communication tools to cut down on business travel and initiate behavioural change to lower energy usage,
  • design buildings and infrastructure that are energy efficient from start to finish in collaboration with clients.

Upon signing the climate pledge, we have agreed to observe and report greenhouse gas emissions regularly, implement decarbonization strategies throughout our business, and neutralize any remaining emissions by offsetting carbon amongst many other initiatives.

Transform society for future generations at AtkinsRéalis

At AtkinsRéalis , we’re on a journey towards a more sustainable built environment. We want to deliver creative and innovative solutions and we’re looking for bright and innovative minds to help us do it. If you’re looking for a challenge and you want to make a real difference, consider taking your sustainability career to North America.

Browse our available jobs today or sign up for our alerts so you’ll never miss an opportunity.