Circular built environment definitions

Derzeit befinden sich 41 definitions in diesem Verzeichnis

Adaptable building
Building that is designed in such a way that, over time, it can be readily transformed to accommodate uses for which it was not originally conceived.

Adaptive Reuse
Reusing an existing building for a new purpose. As an alternative to new construction, adaptive reuse can allow a project to significantly reduce its embodied carbon impact and participate in a circular economy.


Commission Decision 2011/753/EU defines backfilling as‘a recovery operation where suitable waste is used for reclamation purposes in excavated areas or for engineering purposes in landscaping and where the waste is a substitute for non-waste materials’.
In the revised Waste Framework Directive of 2018, the definition of backfilling is strengthened as ‘waste used for backfilling must … be limited to the amount strictly necessary to achieve those purposes’, which might limit the amount of material that will be reported as being backfilled in the future.
Backfilling can be considered low-quality recovery, as it replaces a natural resource (soil) that is abundant without high environmental impacts from its production.
Resources are directly applied on, and provide value to, the land. Common examples include backfilling of materials to reclaim land or landscaping, use on agricultural land in a similar manner to fertiliser.

Bio-Based Material or Biomaterial
Material whose content is derived largely from renewable (i.e. "bio-based") sources.


Carbon Footprint
Amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organization, or community.

Carbon Positive
A city, development, building, or product that goes beyond carbon neutral to create an environmental benefit, and intentionally removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turns it into useful forms.

Carbon Smart Material
A material that is low carbon, carbon neutral, or carbon sequestering.


Circular Building
A building designed according to Reversible Building principles.
A circular building can be defined as follows: “The design, construction and demolition of a building in such a way that it incorporates not only the high-value use and reuse of materials, and an adaptive and future proof design, but also ambitions for sustainability in relation to energy, water, biodiversity and ecosystems at the building and area level."

Circular built environment
The focus lies on the structural challenges and opportunities of the entire built environment value chain - from resource extraction, to building design, construction, use and waste management.

Circular Economy
An alternative to the linear economy model (which is premised on extraction, production, and disposal) based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems. A circular economy draws attention to the value of goods and materials and their associated impact on the environment.

Circular Economy in Construction
Circular Economy in construction is about building materials, recycling and deconstruction of houses at the end of their useful life.


Removal by disassembly of a building in the reverse order in which it was constructed, where components are used specifically for reuse, repurposing, recycling, and waste management.

It is a strategy used by industries and directly connected to resource-light economies. The idea to reduce materials in buildings also includes reducing material use per unit of service (Fernández,2006). It is a more inclusive approach considering material intensity in the entire product lifecycle.

Remove and legally dispose of off-site.

Design for deconstruction (also named DFD)
Similar to Design For Disassembly , Design for deconstruction analysis design of building products foreseeing disassembling after building use, which emphasizes the need for dry connections building detailing. Both disassembly and deconstruction promote proactive strategies in the design phase to enable extraction of products from buildings with higher quality conditions than when mixed with other materials and products to facilitate further reuse.

Design for deconstruction (Design for Disassembly (DFD))
DfD is the design of buildings to facilitate future change and the eventual dismantlement (in part or whole) for recovery of systems, components and materials. This design process includes developing the assemblies, components, materials, construction techniques, and information and management systems to accomplish this goal. Ten Key Principles for DfD:
1. Document materials and methods for deconstruction
2. Select materials using the precautionary principle*.
3. Design connections that are accessible
4. Minimize or eliminate chemical connections.
5. Use bolted, screwed and nailed connections.
6. Separate mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems
7. Design to the worker and labor of separation
8. Simplicity of structure and form.
9. Interchangeability.
10. Safe deconstruction.


Embodied Carbon
The CO₂ emitted during the extraction, manufacture, and transport of building materials and products, and the construction of buildings and infrastructure.


Embodied Energy
Total of all the energy consumed in the processes associated with the production of the materials and products that go into a building or structure.

Energy recovery system
Any technique or method of minimising the input of energy to an overall system by the exchange of energy from one sub-system of the overall system with another.


Energy Upgrade
Improving the energy efficiency of building operations and shifting to electric systems powered by the procurement or on-site generation of renewable energy.



High grade products with high recycled content
Materials with high durability, used in the structural elements. It can prolong construction’s life span, thus contributing to waste prevention as well as creating demand for recycled materials in closed loops, increasing the quality of recycling.


Resources are incinerated and converted into emissions. No heat or energy is captured and resources thus lose all value.


Resources are diverted to a landfill site, or discharged in surface water. Not only is all value lost, but landfilling waste also causes high levels of environmental pressure.

Life Cycle
Consecutive and interlinked stages of a product system, from raw material acquisition or generation from natural resources to final disposal.


Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
A concept and a method to evaluate the environmental effects of a product holistically, by analysing its entire life cycle. This includes identifying and quantifying energy and materials used and wastes released to the environment, assessing their environmental impact, and evaluating opportunities for improvement.


Life cycle cost
Quantification of all the costs incurred during the lifetime of a good or service including planning, design, acquisition, operation, maintenance and disposal.



Mass Timber
A type of structural system that utilizes large solid or engineered wood panels and framing members.


Material banks
Material(s) Banks are repositories or stockpiles of valuable materials that might be recovered. If those materials replace primary resources used during the construction, operation or refurbishment of buildings and their parts, the need for primary resource mining can be eliminated.


Material harvesting
Recovering materials from the existing stock of building with the aim to reuse, recycle or biodegrade them and realise a technical or biological material loop.


Material passports
Materials Passports are electronic and interoperable data sets that collect characteristics of materials and assemblies, enabling suppliers, designers and users to give them the highest possible value and guide all towards material loops.


MFA Material flow analysis
MFA Material flow analysis is an analytical method to quantify flows and stocks of materials or substances in a well-defined system.


Operational Energy
The amount of energy that a building consumes for heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting, equipment, and appliances.



(Re)assembly corresponds to the repeated process of assembly and includes the reassembly of used, reusable construction/resp. concrete elements with or without preparation to form structural components, structures and structural installations. A combination with new building elements and/or monolithic constructions as well as other materials is possible.

Removal of disassembled building materials for processing into secondary materials.

Recycling (Closed-Loop)
Recovery operation by which waste materials are reprocessed into products, materials or substances for which the purpose is the same as that of the original product.

Refurbish (Renovate / Retrofit)
Act of renewing and overhauling all elements of a building to bring it to a condition that makes it seem as if it is new again, giving it a second useful life.


Re-use is “any operation by which products or components that are not waste are used again for the same purpose for which they were conceived” (Directive 2008/98/EC,pg.9) , and that the process should not require recycling or remanufacturing.
Products are reused, maintaining their original shape and characteristics. Often, this requires the repair or replacement of parts of the product. Reuse is the most desirable treatment method, for it guarantees the highest level of value retention.

Reversible connections
Connections, i.e. physical relationship between building parts, that can be undone without damaging the parts they connect, e.g. bolts, screws, or soft lime mortars. Reversible connections enable complete dismantlement at components' end of life.



Removal of disassembled building materials for the purpose of reuse or recycling.


Urban mining
Urban Mining refers to the entire stock of durable goods where the overall amount is more difficult to assess in order to forecast future material flows as early as possible and establish the best possible recycling routes even before the waste materials are produced.


A highly energy-efficient building that produces on-site, or procures, enough carbon-free renewable energy to meet building operations energy consumption annually.


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