Circularity in the built environment – a call for a paradigm shift

Malmqvist, Tove; Moncaster, Alice; Rasmussen, Freja and Birgisdottir, Harpa (2019). Circularity in the built environment – a call for a paradigm shift. In: Brandão, M; Lazarevic, D and Finnveden, G eds. Handbook of the Circular Economy. Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd, (In Press).

Abstract

This chapter considers how circularity is being, and might be, approached and achieved within the built environment. Three case studies illustrate the current situation. The first case address life cycle assessment (LCA) in measuring circularity, showing that while LCA encourages recycling it gives little support to Design for Disassembly. The second considers how multiple decision support tools can act to limit early design input by end users, and therefore limit the long-term sustainability of the building. The third demonstrates the importance of incorporating the needs of users and owners in the management of existing commercial buildings. While therefore circular economy principles are enacted to an extent at present, social needs are seldom adequately considered. This analysis is used to propose a new dynamic framework for a circular built environment, redefined as the outcome of an iterative process to provide for our human needs using the least resources.

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