3 things you need to know as the shared and circular economies converge

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Each year, the GreenBiz Forum brings leaders from the business community together to discuss key sustainability trends, strategies and best practices. JLL’s Dan Probst, Global Chairman of Energy and Sustainability, recently attended this year’s forum alongside Colin Dyer, JLL’s President and CEO. Below, Dan discusses how two seemingly disparate economic ideas – the shared economy and the circular economy – actually complement each other, and what this means for the business community.

The concept of a shared, ‘frictionless’ economy is dominating conversations in the business world. Firms like Uber and Airbnb are proving that owning physical assets is no longer a necessity in today’s interconnected world, where technology facilitates a virtually seamless flow of information, labor and money.

The idea of a circular economy – where the ability to reuse a product is inherent in that product’s design – has similarly taken hold, particularly among sustainability experts and thought leaders. Ellen MacArthur, founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and a leading proponent of the circular economy, spoke at the 2016 GreenBiz Forum about how the business community is starting to embrace this concept of sustainable design – and the strategic implications are staggering.

So – what do these two concepts mean for you and your business? Here are 3 key points to keep in mind as the shared and circular economies converge:

  1. These two economic models are complementary – not contradictory. The shared economy redefines “consumers” as “end users” – allowing individuals or businesses to procure only the services they need, when they need them. This “end user” approach is also inherent to the circular economy’s basic concept of “design within a system,” which emphasizes the full lifecycle of a product (beyond just its initial use phase).
  1. Sustainability is at the heart of both approaches – but for differing reasons. The circular economy concept is built on a foundation of sustainable design, and its guiding principles preach the preservation and enhancement of natural capital and the optimization of resources. By contrast, the shared economy promotes utilizing a pool of shared resources as a means for owners to monetize unused assets – creating sustainable outcomes by extension.
  1. The implications of the shared and circular economies are significant for the real estate industry. Both of these concepts are driving changes in how businesses view their real estate portfolios. Now more than ever, companies are adopting the “end user” mentality that is common to both economic models – by focusing on the experience that employees, clients and visitors have in their space, thereby putting their real estate to work for them (beyond just simply providing a location for work to be done).

These economic approaches aren’t going away any time soon – so staying up-to-speed on the latest developments is more important for your business than ever before. Interested in learning more? Subscribe to the Green Blog for regular updates.


Dan Probst - JLL

Dan Probst is Global Chairman of Energy and Sustainability Services at JLL. In this role, Dan is responsible for developing and delivering products and services that help clients reduce energy costs and their real estate related environmental footprint through innovative portfolio and occupancy strategies, workplace standards, and operating practices. Dan is also a founding and current member of JLL’s Global Environmental Sustainability Board. For Dan’s full bio, please click here.

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