Developing circular building components: Between ideal and feasible

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

31 Downloads (Pure)


Creating a circular economy within the built environment plays a crucial role in society’s pursuit to become more sustainable. A building consists of building components, such as a kitchen, façade and roof. By replacing building components with more circular ones during new construction, maintenance and renovation, we can gradually make buildings circular. There are many design variants for circular building components. Knowledge on which variants are the most circular, and which are feasible to implement is lacking. In this dissertation, we develop and test 8 circular building components for housing renovation together with Dutch social housing associations and industry partners. Combining Action Research and Research through Design approaches, we generate knowledge on 4 research goals. We present a design tool for circular building components. We develop a Life Cycle Assessment model to assess the environmental impacts of circular building components. We compare the environmental performance of multiple circular design options for multiple building components and derive environmental design guidelines. Finally, we identify which stakeholder choices throughout the development of 8 circular building components led to feasible, circular building components. We conclude that not all circular design options lead to desirable circular building components; not all desirable circular design options are yet feasible. This research makes scientific contributions to circular design theories, management models for the built environment, and research methodology. We recommend 4 changes in practice to implement more circular building components.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Gruis, V.H., Supervisor
  • Klein, T., Supervisor
  • van Bortel, G.A., Advisor
Award date21 Apr 2023
Print ISBNs978-94-6366-674-9
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Circular Economy
  • building components
  • housing
  • Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
  • design guidelines
  • feasibility

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