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circular construction challenge

Circular Construction Challenge:
Building a Zero-Waste World

If half of the world’s waste comes from construction, isn’t it time we dump the old ways of building and start using the materials we already have? The Circular Construction Challenge was an initiative by Realdania and DDC to spark fresh ideas for how we can reduce waste.

The Results: Three new solutions for circular success in the world of construction

Close to 100 companies from all over the world applied. Three teams were chosen to participate in an intense six-month-long innovation process. 

Leading experts and practitioners in circular economy, design, and construction assisted the winning teams as they developed and co-designed prototypes and circular business models during bootcamp activities. 

The winners also received a cash prize of €130,000 to support their prototype’s development and scaling, bringing it a bit closer to the global market. 

The winners were: 

  • From Waste to Biomaterial with their project to grow fungi in waste as insulation or acoustic panels
  • Næste who built circular sheds from reused building materials
  • Gentræ was a cross-sector partnership to take back and resell construction timber in retail

The Challenge: Reducing waste in construction

The world generates close to two billion tonnes of waste every year –  about half of which comes from construction. As the world’s population grows, and our cities along with them, we continue to build and generate massive amounts of waste. The challenge? Work with the global construction industry to rethink how to reuse, recycle and upcycle waste to create new building materials.

“Construction is on the rise, and we need new circular methods to meet the massive challenges of waste generation and resource use. Danish companies are at the forefront of this development."

Simon Kofod-Svendsen

Head of Projects for Realdania and responsible for the Circular Construction Challenge

The Approach: New partnerships and circular innovation

DDC designed the challenge format and process for Realdania. Furthermore, we were in charge of facilitating the partnerships and entire project as key operators. 

  • With the challenge model, new players were invited to bring in their ideas, and the teams were asked to form partnerships across sectors, industries and traditional value chains
  • The innovation process was designed to help the teams develop their prototypes, partnerships and sustainable, circular business models to ensure lasting collaboration across the value chain
  • Using design methods, they were able to map, scale and test their solutions before bringing them to market

“CCC opened the door to collaboration across the entire value chain. The innovation phase has introduced us to a set of tools and methods helping the team to take many of the processes around the GENTRÆ project even further.”

Louise Askær-Hune

Environmental Business Partner i STARK Group, part of the GENTRÆ team

“The most significant benefit of the CCC innovation process has been working across the value chain with different partners, innovating every process and challenging the normal way of doing things in the building sector. Focusing on creating value for others and optimizing the collective process, and not just sub-optimization. Ultimately, this creates value for everyone, and it’s been a true joy to experience first hand.”

Niels Jakubiak Andersen

Founder, NÆSTE

About The Circular Construction Challenge

Circular Construction Challenge – Rethink Waste was introduced in 2018 as a partnership with Realdania. The project was dedicated to exploring new solutions to reducing waste in construction.

A selection committee of international experts chose three winners for a six-month innovation process. The participants built their prototype and business model, assisted by leaders in circular economy, waste, and construction and were supported by branding experts at the final phase of the project.

The winners presented their circular solutions in Denmark and abroad, including to the resource and waste management industry at the ISWA World Congress in Bilbao and to industry leaders and developers in construction at a major launch event in BLOX in Copenhagen.

Monica Maria Moeskær

Cities Lead (on maternity leave)

Phone +45 4056 0076
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