Circular built environment

South Australia is taking action to support a resilient, liveable and carbon-neutral built environment, and to boost jobs and growth as part of a $100 billion global opportunity. 

The building and construction industry is currently both the largest consumer of materials, and the global economy’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions. 

With innovation and investment, this sector has the greatest potential for improvement. By providing a focus on improved design, construction and use of our built environment, we can help ensure our buildings are affordable, sustainable and climate-resilient – providing long-term economic and community benefits.

Green Industries SA is working to explore these opportunities through policy and programs detailed below.

Fast facts

  • The global built environment is responsible for half of the world’s raw material use and 40% of landfill waste
  • Three materials – concrete, steel and aluminium – make up for 23% of total global emissions, and most of this is used in the built environment 
  • By extending the life of existing buildings, global greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by 1.3 billion tonnes of CO2e per year in 2050
  • In South Australia, 90% of the 2.8 million tonnes of waste generated each year is recycled and diverted from landfill


South Australia’s Waste Strategy 2020-2025 addresses the built environment sector and construction and demolition waste. It highlights opportunities and a number of priority actions, such as encouraging adaptive reuse, and developing standards for ‘design of the built environment’ practices including the adoption of sustainable building materials. 


Exploring circular economy opportunities in SA’s built environment

Green Industries SA is partnering with the Green Building Council of Australia, dsquared and the Adelaide Sustainable Building Network to explore circular economy opportunities in the built environment in South Australia.

This work will identify the potential for SA’s built environment possible through improved design, procurement, construction, use and re-use of our built environment, and improved resource recovery, to ensure our built environment is sustainable, climate-resilient and providing long-term economic and social benefits.

Read the Circular economy in South Australia’s built environment discussion paper, released in September 2022. 

The final report, Circular economy in South Australia’s built environment – Action Plan identifies opportunities and presents recommendations to move towards a circular built environment in SA, released in June 2023. 

Market development

South Australia’s leadership through manufacturing can be extended through the built environment and investments, including materials such as cement, steel, timber, and glass. 

GISA’s Circular Economy Market Development program supports this through enabling testing, research and development of specifications to support barriers to market, and enabling market upscaling of innovations through commercialisation and product and innovation incubation.

Circular economy in action

Circular built environment in action: XFRAME™, Tonsley

This prefabricated light-weight wall framing system is flexible and adaptable to accommodate future change. The components assemble into structural panels without the need for nails, glues, or screws – making this modular system easily reparable and reusable. Being designed for deconstruction reduces time, labour and costs at end of life.

XFRAME™ was supported through GISA’s Commercialisation of Innovation Program, in partnership with Innovyz.