BS 8001 and the built environment: a review and critique

Pomponi, Francesco and Moncaster, Alice (2019). BS 8001 and the built environment: a review and critique. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Engineering Sustainability, 172(3) pp. 111–114.



The British Standards Institute has recently published the world’s first standard on the circular economy. The standard is intentionally broad and inclusive to suit all types of organisations and products. However, when it comes to complex products such as buildings – with large numbers of stakeholders, long lifespans and high uncertainties about future scenarios and formed of multiple products interacting both temporally and geographically – there is a question as to whether the inclusiveness and breadth of BS 8001:2017 are best suited to promoting real change. This briefing presents a review and a critique of BS 8001 from the perspective of buildings. The paper demonstrates that the standard collates much of the existing information on the circular economy in a commendably comprehensive document. Although it offers a useful resource for the novice, within the context of buildings, the standard does not deal with their complexity. It therefore falls short of identifying effective approaches to reducing the environmental impacts and waste streams caused by buildings and thus misses the opportunity to accelerate the transition to a ‘circular’ built environment. The final section offers some additional documents and resources that could be helpful to those wishing to adopt circular economy principles within the built environment.

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