Accredited cradle-to-cradle since 2005, Steven Beckers is a forerunner in introducing this concept to construction.

"It's all very well to reduce your negative impact on the environment, but at the same time you have to increase the positive impacts. It is by creating these positive impacts that you create the economies that allow you to do the circular economy and have a profitable impact at the environmental, social and economic level", Steven Beckers explains.

Sequencing of technological and biological materials

One should also seek to promote products that are organically produced as much as possible, as they are naturally produced and can be returned to nature. IsoHemp is an excellent example of this. The IsoHemp block is made of lime and hemp. 100% natural raw materials that can easily be returned to nature when the product reaches the end of its life.

"Using healthy materials is the basis, both for the sake of the environment and the human being."

Buildings could sprout like trees

If buildings were like trees, cities would be like forests.

Michael Braungart and William McDonough, who defined cradle-to-cradle, used the tree as a symbol of the regenerative circular economy. A tree does nothing but good things; it captures carbon, produces wood, amends soils, collects dew...

What if a building could do the same?

Think disassemblability, not demolition.

It is important to make an accurate inventory of everything in the building and to ensure that each material is detachable and can be reused or reground, like the IsoHemp hemp block. Not only is this essential for the environment, it is also essential from a financial point of view.

"If you put 10 million euros into materials for a building, you have to pay 100,000 euros to get rid of them. At the end of a building's life, you will have a negative residual value. How do you recover the value of this material ? Simply by making sure that these materials can be returned to the cycle and become part of a continuous cycle.

Many uses are better than one

Steven Beckers emphasises the importance of giving building components multiple responsibilities.

"If you install photovoltaic panels, it will take a long time to recover the energy that was used to produce them. If your panels become the roof, if they replace your material, if it allows you to harvest clean water, bring you heat and protect you from the sun, that energy will pay for itself much more quickly." This is also the case for the energy produced in the building. "The heat emitted by the Foodmet's refrigerators is recovered through a pump system to heat the greenhouses."

Cascading is the best way to erase the word waste. Water, energy, materials... everything can be used in a cascade. "Until today I have broken down a lot of doors, but there are some that have remained closed. Together we can open them."

Steven Beckers told us how IsoHemp inspires his confidence in the future. He shares with us his enthusiasm for the hemp block and intends to involve us in his future projects to further develop the regenerative circular economy in the making.

 

Steven Beckers

Steven Beckers is a "Cradle-to-Cradle" accredited architect and a circularity expert at BOPRO. He is one of the main advocates of the circular economy and the precursor of urban agriculture in Belgium. Born in Brussels to a Belgian father and an English mother, he graduated in architecture from the University of St. Luke's in the early 1980s and continued his education in Switzerland. From the beginning, environmental issues and sustainable development are very close to his heart. Between 1986 and 1996, he went to work in England where he became fascinated by Ecodesign. In 2011, he turned to a new field: the circular economy. At the same time, he created his company Lateral Thinking Factory.

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