ReBuilt: Transformation Pathways Towards a Regenerative Built Environment

bauhaus earth

ReBuilt seeks to advance the novel concept of a regenerative built environment and demonstrate how it can be implemented in practice. The concept of the regenerative built environment aims to reverse the impacts of construction on natural ecosystems, requiring a fundamental transformation in the way we design and maintain our built environment. This is necessary to limit global warming to well below 2°C. To achieve this goal, we need to develop solutions for cities and their surrounding landscapes to co-evolve in a mutually beneficial way.

The ReBuilt project focuses on five themes of transformation:

1. the shift to bio-based materials;
2. circular building practices;
3. polycentric and resource-efficient urban systems;
4. people-centred and inclusive approaches;
5. and an enabling environment for systems change.

A lush forest viewed from above, Bhutan.

Core Workflow of the ReBuilt Project

The availability of bio-based materials is a fundamental requirement for the transition to a regenerative built environment. On a global scale, the project will therefore assess the supply of bio-based building materials necessary to meet future construction demand under certain global scenarios. These include population growth, urbanization, and the use of bio-based building materials. This will provide important insights into the potential to transform the built environment from a carbon source to a carbon sink.

At the regional level, the project seeks to determine and initiate locally specific transition pathways to a regenerative built environment in four city regions, including Paro-Thimphu, Bhutan; Cape Town, South Africa; Berlin-Potsdam, Germany; and Denpasar, Indonesia.

This will be done through an innovative process design that includes three iterative phases: (1) systemic analysis of the built environment and its regionally available bio-based building materials to build the necessary knowledge base for the transition; (2) ‘Transformation Labs’ – transdisciplinary learning journeys that bring together key stakeholders to co-create and test alternative visions and transition scenarios; and (3) strategic roadmaps including scalable solutions to guide the short, medium, and long-term transition.

The learnings from these regional deep dives will inform an adaptable and transferable framework, as well as toolkits for other city regions seeking to make the transition to a regenerative built environment.

Diagram of the regenerative built environment across spatial scales in the context of the ReBuilt project.

A New Research and Policy Agenda

The global study and the regional deep dives will inform each other and create a new research and policy agenda for transforming the built environment into a lever for a climate-positive and more equitable future. Other expected outcomes include the identification of transformation opportunities and barriers, the generation of globally transferable knowledge, and cross-regional learning through continuous exchange and shared reflection.

Our results will feed into relevant policy processes and agendas at local, national, and international levels in the form of strategic roadmaps and policy recommendations. Based on the identified needs, capacity-building formats will be developed to support the implementation of transition pathways. These will target potential change makers in administrations, local governments, the private sector, and civil society organisations. In addition to summarizing the findings in scientific publications, project results will be presented at scientific conferences, multilateral events, and stakeholder forums.

Want to learn more? – Relevant press and events

> LISTEN: Georg Hubmann, “How to: Material and Resource” @ Radio Industry Common Discourse

> LEARN: “Circular Practices in Construction”, Journal of Physics

> READ: “How Bhutan could provide the blueprint for climate-smart forest economies”, World Economic Forum

ReBuilt is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV). The duration of the project is between 02/2023 and 12/2025.