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Green Growth: a catalyst initiative for the circular economy in the construction sector

The ‘Green Growth’ project, co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union, ends after almost three years of consortium work to address the challenge of the circular economy in the construction sector in Europe, from the field of education and training of teachers in this area. To this end, a consortium was set up comprising leading institutions in the construction training sector from Spain, Germany, Belgium, Slovenia and Italy, led by Fundación Laboral de la Construcción: Armadillo Amarillo, Bildungszentren des Baugewerbes e.V. (BZB), Sustainum Institut, Centre IFAPME Liège-Huy-Verviers, Centro Edile Andrea Palladio and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia (CCIS).

The partners involved in the initiative have developed a number of outputs that have helped to raise awareness among the sector’s educational community about the importance of positioning the circular economy as a cross-cutting subject in Vocational Education and Training (VET), including: a handbook on ‘Circular Economy in Practice’ for teachers, an online course for teachers on ‘Circular Economy Competences’ to promote among their students, a mobile app for operators and SMEs on ‘The use of circular economy in renovation works’ and a Roadmap for the adoption of circular economy in VET centres, all available in the languages of the consortium. In addition, complementary to the ‘Green Growth’ training, the partners published a ‘Case study and exercises for teachers’ as part of the project’s pedagogical material.

Green Growth Results

During these years, the project partners have carried out a thorough analysis of the economic model applied in the construction sector. It has been a fieldwork in which they have consulted experts from different fields, through surveys, interviews or focus groups, which have helped to define the status quo and develop the following results:

    • Handbook’The circular economy applied to the construction sector’. The aim of this document is to provide information, resources and training tools to Vocational Education and Training (VET) teachers on circular economy and its practical applications in construction, starting by explaining what this economic model consists of and its basic principles.
    • Case studies and exercises for trainees. A pedagogical material has been published to support construction teachers, including real examples where circular principles have been applied in constructions or projects in European countries, with practical exercises.
    • Course on circular economy skills. This is a self-training MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) that contributes to lifelong learning and the acquisition/updating of competences of teachers and other construction actors, offering a transversal approach to the circular economy and promoting the dissemination and application of European principles in the construction sector. The duration of the course is 8 hours divided into an introductory module and 5 training pills.
    • App ‘Green Growth’, to apply the circular economy in renovation works. It consists of an informative tool aimed at companies on the possibility of recycling or reusing construction materials, as well as informing on the energy savings that a good installation or de-installation entails, among other options.
    • Roadmap for Training Centres. This is a document with recommendations to raise awareness and include the circular economy in the sector’s training centres, both in the management of the training centre itself and in the training itineraries developed in them.
The project in figures

Since November 2020, the ‘Green Growth’ project has reached more than one million recipients, including: young people, sector experts, teachers, public administration officials and relevant actors in the field of education. In summary, the European initiative has exceeded 3,600 web visits, 140 followers and 32,300 impressions on social networks, 150 appearances in the corporate media of the partners, eight press appearances and the presentation at some thirty events in which it is estimated that around 15,000 people have been reached.

Among the events, the participation in the CONAMA 2022 congress, in the High Level Construction Forum, in the AEIP’s Working Group of the Construction sector and in the 6th International Congress on Technological Innovation in Building. The opinions of 218 experts in the sector from Spain, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Slovenia were also consulted to obtain a realistic, first-person view of construction.