Environmental design guidelines for circular building components based on LCA and MFA: Lessons from the circular kitchen and renovation façade

A. van Stijn*, L. C.M. Eberhardt, B. Wouterszoon Jansen, A. Meijer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
57 Downloads (Pure)


The transition towards a Circular Economy (CE) in the built environment is vital to reduce environmental impacts, resource consumption and waste generation. The built environment can be made circular by replacing building components with more circular ones. There are many circular design options for building components and knowledge about which options perform better – from an environmental perspective – is limited. Existing guidelines focussed on single components, single circular design options, applied different assessment methods and provide conflicting guidelines. Therefore, in this article, we develop environmental design guidelines by comparing multiple circular design options for two building components: a kitchen (short service life) and renovation façade (medium service life). First, we synthesize design variants based on distinct circular pathways, such as renewable-, non-virgin material use, and modularity for reuse. Second, we compare their environmental performance to a ‘business-as-usual’ variant through Material Flow Analysis (MFA) and a multi-cycle Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) including extensive sensitivity analysis on circular parameters. Analysing the 78 LCAs and MFAs, we derive 8 lessons learned on the environmental design of circular building components. We compare our findings to existing guidelines, including those for circular building structures (long service life). Amongst other lessons, we found components with a short service life benefit more from prioritizing circular design options to slow and close future cycles, whilst components with a longer service life benefit more from reducing resources and slowing loops on site. However, applying circular design options does not always result in a better environmental performance. Tipping-points were identified based on the number of use cycles, lifespans and the assessment methods applied.

Original languageEnglish
Article number131375
Number of pages58
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • (CE)
  • (LCA)
  • (MFA)
  • Building components
  • Circular economy
  • Design guidelines
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Material flow analysis
  • Multi-cycle


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