The construction sector is very dynamic in Luxembourg. This economic hotspot has experienced an exponential economic and demographic growth over the past decades, and there is a constant demand for both residential buildings and office space. According to national statistics, the annual construction volume increased by almost 45% between 2000 and 2017. An increasing number of building projects are designed with a circular economy approach.

On-going circular building projects

A recent mapping conducted by Luxinnovation, the national innovation agency, identified over 30 on-going circular building projects. These include residential buildings, schools, a new hospital in the south of Luxembourg, the deconstruction of a large building previously occupied by the European Commission and the reconversion of several brownfield sites into eco-districts combining housing, office buildings, schools, shops and parks. While many of them are managed by public bodies, private players are also adopting the circular way of thinking. One example is the new headquarters of steel giant ArcelorMittal that is being built with a cradle-to-cradle concept. This means that it will be possible to deconstruct the building and reuse almost all of the steel without having to recycle it.

All these projects represent around 500.000 m2 and a budget of several hundred millions for the next three to five years.

“All these projects represent around 500.000 m2 and a budget of several hundred millions for the next three to five years,” says Charles-Albert Florentin, the manager of the Luxembourg CleanTech Cluster at Luxinnovation. “A number of calls for tenders for new projects will already be issued  in 2020.”

Buildings, methods, materials

Luxinnovation and the Ministry of the Economy have carried out a study of the needs related to these circular building projects and to what extent their demand can be met by the national offer. “Our aim is to provide indications on how to issue calls for tenders with a circular approach that are effective and adapted to companies,” says Mr Florentin.

The analysis revealed a wide range of needs related to materials, production methods, logistics, building use and maintenance, and deconstruction. “There is an increasing interest in flexible buildings that can be built module by module, easily adapted to evolving needs and, if necessary, deconstructed and used as ‘material banks’ for new building projects,” explains Mr Florentin. “There is also a strong desire to use non-toxic, bio-sourced and renewable materials.”

Another main point is the need to have a “passport” for materials used. “This is perfectly in line with the BIM (Building Information Modelling) methodology, which is constantly becoming more important,” Mr Florentin points out.

Looking for cleantech solutions

The realisation of these circular building and urbanisation projects will create numerous business opportunities for cleantech companies in the next few years. “Luxembourg companies are of course encouraged to respond to the calls for tenders, but we also know that complementary expertise and solutions from international companies will be needed,” says Georges Schaaf, Head of International Business Development – CleanTech at Luxinnovation. His role is to support international companies that are looking to expand their business activities in Europe with Luxembourg as their base. “Companies that want to know more about the cleantech market in here are more than welcome to contact me for more information, or to visit Luxembourg in order to discover the opportunities the country has to offer in the fields of cleantech and the circular economy.”

Photo: © Luxinnovation/Sabino Parente