Space as a Service: Embracing the circular

The business models in the construction industry, as in most others, are linear. It’s an industry conveyor belt that is extremely hard to change. Essentially: Extracting resources, manufacturing products, using them, and disposing of them. The backside of this approach is of course that it has some significant negative sustainability impacts, such as rapidly scaling resource depletion, a big carbon footprint, and environmental damage. To be frank: The linear economy is trashing the planet. What needs to happen (like, yesterday) is a total shift towards a circular paradigm, where resources are used efficiently but not depleted, and waste is minimized. Our Space as a Service model exemplifies what this might look like in the construction sector, while also being financially robust and successful.

Adapteo’s Space as a Service model is a solution that – unlike the linear model – aligns with global sustainable practices. Rather than just constructing and selling buildings, Space as a Service entails providing buildings serving specific needs on a rental basis. This model is a game changer in the way that it fundamentally alters the relationship between the building provider and the user as it prioritizes longevity, efficiency, and resource optimization. It’s the future-proof kid on the sustainability block, if you will.

By retaining ownership and control of the building, or indeed any product in an as-a-service scheme, providers are incentivized to maximize its lifespan and minimize resource usage. This is hugely different from traditional linear models, where the provider’s obligations basically end once a building or product is sold. An as-a-service concept kicks it up a notch and encourages providers to deliver high-quality, efficient solutions while ensuring customer satisfaction—a paradigm shift from the take-make-waste economy.

However, more widespread adoption of this concept has its obstacles. The linear model is deeply entrenched in our economies, regulations, and societal norms, making it difficult – and perhaps a bit uncomfortable – to shift to a circular approach. Resistance to change, perceptions of ‘second-hand’ goods, and regulatory hurdles are some of the barriers preventing the much-needed rapid adoption of circular practices. For example, many procurement processes specifically list “new modules” as a requirement, which is likely a result of the misconception that if something has been used previously it is inherently bad quality. Hint: It isn’t.

“Honestly, the perception that something previously used is inherently inferior needs to change. Whether it’s a product or a service, we have got to shift away from the notion that new always means better. Instead, we must emphasize that quality, function, value, and experience can remain just as high, if not better, with reused or refurbished items. This mindset shift is essential, especially in procurement processes where the insistence on new modules undermines the very essence of sustainability.”

Lina K Wiles, Chief Sustainability Officer

Collaboration plays a crucial role in enabling circular economy principles. It requires partnerships between manufacturers, service providers, and end-users to champion and promote the reuse, refurbishment, and recycling of materials and components. Here’s why you should get on board: Collaborative efforts can simplify procurement processes, establish take-back schemes, and promote shared responsibility between providers and users, to the benefit of everyone – including the planet.

Embracing circularity in design is how we advance the circular economy agenda. This requires considering the choice of materials, and end-of-life scenarios, and ensuring that buildings and components can be effortlessly disassembled, reused, or recycled. And sure, we’ve made some strides in the right direction, but there is still some serious room for improvement in embedding circularity throughout the process. Adapteo’s Space as a Service model provides a compelling strategy for integrating circular economy principles and taking a step away from the old linear vibes the construction industry is still dealing with.