Submitted Successfully!
To reward your contribution, here is a gift for you: A free trial for our video production service.
Thank you for your contribution! You can also upload a video entry or images related to this topic.
Version Summary Created by Modification Content Size Created at Operation
1 -- 1111 2023-04-25 13:56:38 |
2 format corrected. + 5 word(s) 1116 2023-04-26 04:43:31 |

Video Upload Options

Do you have a full video?


Are you sure to Delete?
If you have any further questions, please contact Encyclopedia Editorial Office.
Lausselet, C.; Dahlstrøm, O.A.; Thyholt, M.; Eghbali, A.; Schneider-Marin, P. Circular Economy in the Building Sector. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 23 June 2024).
Lausselet C, Dahlstrøm OA, Thyholt M, Eghbali A, Schneider-Marin P. Circular Economy in the Building Sector. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 23, 2024.
Lausselet, Carine, Oddbjørn Andvik Dahlstrøm, Marit Thyholt, Aida Eghbali, Patricia Schneider-Marin. "Circular Economy in the Building Sector" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 23, 2024).
Lausselet, C., Dahlstrøm, O.A., Thyholt, M., Eghbali, A., & Schneider-Marin, P. (2023, April 25). Circular Economy in the Building Sector. In Encyclopedia.
Lausselet, Carine, et al. "Circular Economy in the Building Sector." Encyclopedia. Web. 25 April, 2023.
Circular Economy in the Building Sector

The building sector had the highest share by weight of waste, with 37% of waste generation, compared to all the other economic activities in Europe in 2022. The building sector contributes to the building stock that is in a continuous state of growth, placing pressure on resource consumption, related contributions to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and planetary degradation. The circular economy (CE)  principles would thus help alleviate this risk. However, the application of CE principles to the building sector is limited. Shedding more light on the possibilities for a CE in the building sector to transition to a more circularly built environment is thus crucial.

design for disassembly (DfD) circular economy

1. Introduction

Following the launch of the European Green Deal [1], which makes sustainable products the norm in the European Union, increases circular business models, and empowers consumers for the green transition, the circular economy (CE) has gained considerable attention in policy-making processes. One of the proposals in the Green Deal aims to strengthen the internal circular market for construction products and ensure that the regulatory framework in place is suitable for ensuring that the built environment meets the sustainability and climate goals.
The Green Deal and CE strategies support holistic approaches. For buildings, this means that the focus shifts from a sole focus on energy efficiency measures [2] to widen the scope and shed light on material-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from construction and renovation activities [3]. Such comprehensive approaches are key to fulfilling the obligations under the Paris Agreement and to ensuring that the global average temperature does not rise to 1.5 or 2 °C above preindustrial levels [4].
An economy that closely aligns with circular targets has the potential to contribute to value creation and jobs based on new business models that offer repair, rental, and sharing [5]. The focus on CE strategies is strong at both European and national levels. Norway is no exception [6] and actively works on implementing the CE Action Plan with a focus on the following six strategies, given in order of importance: 1. Reconsider, 2. Reduce, 3. Reuse, 4. Repair, renovate, and reproduce, 5. recycle and utilize residual raw materials, and 6. energy recovery. Those CE strategies are designed to increase the durability, repair, leasing, and rental of consumer goods.

The EU CE Action Plan emphasizes the importance of “getting the economics right” and the importance of acting at the community level [7]. For the case of the building sector, this framework translates into planning and building for future disassembly and the re-use of material [8]. In the international literature, “Design for disassembly” or “Design for Deconstruction” (DfD) are the terms used for these processes [9]. Yet, quantitative data on building materials’ reuse, recycling, and deconstruction activities are scarce [10].

2. Circular Economy in the Building Sector

To ensure the optimal implementation of the CE principles in the building sector, it is important to embrace a holistic manner and combine the correct selection of construction materials with the best building design and choice of building products. One example is the Nordic guide to sustainable materials [11] which introduces circular criteria for choosing materials as follows: (1). long service life of materials, (2). a low maintenance need of materials, (3). easy repair of materials, (4). recyclability of materials, (5). Reuse of materials, and (6). low environmental impact during service life.

2.1. Limitations of the Implementation of Circular Economy Principles in the Building Sector

The CE is still regarded as a complex and new paradigm that requires a clearer roadmap to be implemented in the building sector [12]. One reason behind this complexity is that the CE frameworks are site-specific, since they depend on a variety of environmental and economic factors, including building components and materials, transportation, and the political and economic contexts.
Another constraint to developing a CE in the building sector is the lack of related research in this field. Most of the research in Europe has been conducted on waste management efficiency rather than waste reduction or reuse, which has boosted the rate of downcycling [13]. This research gap has also resulted in limited data streams and indicators across the globe and the Nordics, particularly for the CE’s inner loops, which include strategies such as reducing, extending product life-cycles, reusing, and refurbishing [14].
When DfD is applied, building elements are designed in a manner that allows for the different parts to easily be taken apart at the end of their useful life so that they can be diverted from the waste stream and reused, either directly or through material recovery. In addition, the use of DfD as a CE strategy will increase the adaptability, durability, and reusability of products while lowering the risk of damage and loss of value for subsequent life cycles [15]. However, despite DfD being recognized and promoted as a low-carbon CE service-life-extension technique, the main barriers are not technological but lie in the adoption of the DfD principles by the building sector along the whole supply chains and markets [16].

2.2. The Norwegian Building Sector

The Norwegian building sector is the largest single source of waste, with waste from the construction, rehabilitation, and demolition of buildings that accounted for 25% of a total of 12 million tons of waste in 2021, as shown in Figure 1 [17]. From this total, 55% are sent to material recovery (i.e., bricks and concrete and other heavy building materials, 48%; asphalt, 18%; metals and wood, 10% each), 19% to incineration with energy recovery (i.e., mixed waste, 57%; wood waste, 39%) and 23% to landfill (i.e., bricks and concrete and other heavy building materials, 44%; polluted bricks and concrete, 38%). On the other hand, the European Waste Directive stipulates that at least 70% of nonhazardous construction and demolition waste needs to be recovered starting in 2020 [18].
Figure 1. Implementing circular economy strategies in the building sector by means of standards.
The Norwegian figures fall short of this goal of 70%. An increase in the material recovery rate in waste streams could be accomplished through advanced waste sorting, which requires the careful disassembly of building components and enables the reuse of waste as a resource. The Norwegian building sector thus holds a unique opportunity to increase its circularity rate by using reused and reusable materials, e.g., using DfD. In addition, selecting products that are suitable for reuse and recycling will help to fulfil the new requirement of the building construction standard TEK 17 [19], which imposes material use requirement. 
According to the Platform for Accelerating the CE [20], several core sectors and standards have been developed with the intention of bridging the circularity gap in the building sector. Three of them have the potential to be key change agents in the Norwegian CE landscape: design for the future, sustain and preserve existing buildings, and utilizing waste as a resource. The goal of these suggested strategies is to slow material flows by extending the service life of building components and to close loops through reversible construction design and smart material management.


  1. European Commission. The European Green Deal; European Commission: Brussels, Belgium, 2019.
  2. European Commission. Energy Use in Buildings; European Commission: Brussels, Belgium, 2021.
  3. Lausselet, C.; Urrego, J.P.F.; Resch, E.; Brattebø, H. Temporal analysis of the material flows and embodied greenhouse gas emissions of a neighborhood building stock. J. Ind. Ecol. 2020, 25, 419–434.
  4. EASAC. Decarbonisation of Buildings: For Climate, Health and Jobs; German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina: Halle, Germany, 2021.
  5. Wiebe, K.S.; Harsdorff, M.; Montt, G.; Simas, M.S.; Wood, R. Global Circular Economy Scenario in a Multiregional Input-Output Framework. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2019, 53, 6362–6373.
  6. Deloitte Study for a National Strategy for Circular Economy. 2020. Available online: (accessed on 2 February 2023).
  7. European Commission. A New Circular Economy Action Plan: For a Cleaner and More Competitive Europe; European Commission: Brussels, Belgium, 2020. Available online: (accessed on 10 February 2023).
  8. European Commission. Circular Economy Principles for Building Design; European Commission: Brussels, Belgium, 2020.
  9. Ostapska, K.; Gradeci, K.; Ruther, P. Design for Disassembly (DfD) in construction industry: A literature mapping and analysis of the existing designs. In Proceedings of the Carbon-Neutral Cities—Energy Efficiency and Renewables in the Digital Era (Cisbat 2021), Lausanne, Switzerland, 8–10 September 2021; Volume 2042, p. 012176.
  10. Rios, F.C.; Chong, W.K.; Grau, D. Design for Disassembly and Deconstruction—Challenges and Opportunities. Procedia Eng. 2015, 118, 1296–1304.
  11. Rambøll; on behalf of GBCF. Nordic Guide to Sustainable Materials; GBCF: Copenhagen, Denmark, 2014.
  12. van Stijn, A.; Malabi Eberhardt, L.C.; Wouterszoon Jansen, B.; Meijer, A. A Circular Economy Life Cycle Assessment (CE-LCA) model for building components. Resour. Conserv. Recycl. 2021, 174, 105683.
  13. Adams, K.T.; Osmani, M.; Thorpe, T.; Thornback, J. Circular economy in construction: Current awareness, challenges and enablers. Proc. Inst. Civ. Eng. Waste Resour. Manag. 2017, 170, 15–24.
  14. Nordic Council of Ministers. Pre-Study: Indicators on Circular Economy in the Nordic Countries; Nordic Council of Ministers: Copenhagen, Denmark, 2020.
  15. Heinrich, M.; Lang, W. Materials Passports—Best Practice; Technische Universität München in association with BAMB: Munich, Germany, 2019.
  16. Joensuu, T.; Leino, R.; Heinonen, J.; Saari, A. Developing Buildings’ Life Cycle Assessment in Circular Economy-Comparing methods for assessing carbon footprint of reusable components. Sustain. Cities Soc. 2022, 77, 103499.
  17. Statistics Norway. Waste Accounts (2021). 2022. Available online: (accessed on 10 February 2023).
  18. European Commission. DIRECTIVE 2008/98/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 19 November 2008 on Waste and Repealing Certain Directives; European Commission: Brussels, Belgium, 2008.
  19. Norwegian Building Authority. Building Technical Regulation (TEK17). 2017. Available online: (accessed on 10 February 2023). (In Norwegian).
  20. De Wit, M.; Haigh, L.; Von Daniels, C.; Christiansen, A.F. The Circularity Gap Report: Norway; The Plaftorm for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE): Oslo, Norway, 2020.
Contributors MDPI registered users' name will be linked to their SciProfiles pages. To register with us, please refer to : , , , ,
View Times: 337
Revisions: 2 times (View History)
Update Date: 26 Apr 2023
Video Production Service