Circular economy as a model for the future

Author: Patrick Bergmann, Managing Director Madaster Germany

“Circular economy as a model for the future”

I would have posted this statement back in 2011. At the time, I was completing a master’s degree at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and was working extensively on closing material cycles in construction and urban planning. Unfortunately, the topic occupied only a niche place at that time. However, since society in Europe has become more aware of sustainability issues and the European Commission’s Green Deal identifies the Circular Economy as one of its cornerstones, its importance has been steadily increasing.

Today, in my opinion, is the perfect time to think and implement the Circular Economy consistently in the construction industry as well. The decision in favour of Madaster and thus to set up the cadastre for materials in Germany was therefore relatively simple.

Madaster combines various aspects that have played an important role on my path so far and that inspire me personally: Construction, Environment, Innovation and Data.

Construction

My first buildings were created in the sandbox near the Lake of Constance (Bodensee) or on the beach in Tuscany. Buildings were and are fascinating to me. Their longevity, the enormous amounts of resources and the possibility to promote or hinder social interaction.

Environment

The importance of the environment, the role of humans, and their impact on it became more and more on my mind during my undergraduate studies and led to a master’s degree in Urban Management & Environmental Economics at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. It was clear that this is going to be a key issue in the future and that each individual is part of this system and contributes to the solution.

Innovation

I was mainly involved with innovation and materials during my time as a research assistant at the TU Dresden. The project “Carbon Concrete Composite” replaces steel reinforcement by carbon fibres in concrete and thus enables a leaner and more resource-efficient construction. In addition to the economic and ecological evaluation of the new material, my focus was on deconstruction and recycling.

For me, it has always been important to think about things holistically – along the entire life cycle. At the same time, the complexity of the issue became obvious: How are carbon fibres disposed of? Do the advantages of lean construction outweigh the disadvantages in the production of carbon fibres? What adjustments need to be made in storage and construction processes to anchor the innovation in the market?

Data

During my time at PwC in real estate and business valuation, data played a central role. Every valuation is based on data. Furthermore, the topics Big Data or Data & Analytics are gaining more and more importance and enable new insights. At the same time, it is important to me that data security and transparency are not neglected in its use.

Madaster gives materials an identity and thus makes them infinitely available. The idea is as simple as it is challenging. Madaster offers property owners and other stakeholders the ability to store, manage, enrich and share data about their properties. To me, this is the central way to break the linear economic model, curb the enormous consumption of resources and guarantee future generations a standard of living like we have today.

Adaptation and optimization within the old, linear economic model is no solution!