Expert Insights

Expert Insights gives voice to the Urban Insights initiative. We bring you closer to the authors and influencers who have helped to shape and form the Urban Insight initiative and reports.

Martijn Ringström

Martin Ringstrøm is an architect and Sustainability Project Leader at Sweco Denmark. He is a sustainability leader on all local projects in and around Aarhus, where he lives and works. He is an expert in cradle-to-cradle and the circular economy.

From your point of view, what does a circular economy mean?
“To me, it’s about using the resources that are already available. It’s like going back 200 years in our building culture. Firstly, use what is already available. Secondly use only materials that can go into new loops of circularity. It’s about optimizing every kind of use, in every aspect.”

“Circularity is about using the resources that are already available.”

How do we increase innovation and speed up the pace of circular transformation?
“Sweco has developed an internal compass for circularity, so everyone who gets a new assignment is automatically screening the project for sustainability. We want to keep to a certain standard for all our projects without the clients having to ask for it. In this way, we’re educating our staff, the clients and the users.”

Read the trend report: Circular construction – an opportunity we can’t waste.

How could circularity help us to meet the UN SDGs?
“If you want to score a few points higher in lowering emissions, you just have to switch a panel or two in a building to a more sustainable material, but we don’t think that is enough. I would like to put the goal limitations aside and think about sustainability and circularity in every detail in the building itself and the construction process. We have to think big, raise the bar. In fact, reusing old materials does not make a building more expensive, but could reduce emissions to a third or quarter of what they would be otherwise.”

Put the goal limitations aside and think about sustainability and circularity in every detail in the building itself and the construction process.

Circularity in five years, where will we be by then?
“I think it will be like in 2008-2009 when we had to change over to new rules on energy use; it happened really fast. In five years, we’ll be able to illustrate the amount of circularity in all our programs and projects.”

Sweco´s cross-border knowledge platform, Urban Insights, will highlight and discuss the transition towards greater sustainability and circularity in urban areas. Together with experts, scientists and the public, we will discuss key steps we must take to achieve net zero cities and societies.

Read more about the theme Towards Circularity!