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Knowledge category: Tools and methods

A framework for circular buildings: indicators for possible inclusion in BREEAM

Updated on 23.05.2023

This report provides a general framework for circular buildings and proposes concrete strategies and indicators that could help better evaluate circular buildings.

Author: Circle Economy, Metabolic, Dutch Green Building Council, SGS, Redevco Foundation
Year of update: 2018

More information

Users can go through the framework described in the paper and draw inspiration from the strategies and the sub-strategies to develop their own circular building strategy.

Relevance for Circular Systemic Solutions

This report provides a strategy indicator framework for circular buildings and suggests circular strategies and indicators for possible inclusion in BREEAM (Building research establishments environmental assessment), which is a method to assess circularity in buildings. The part of the report which is useful for cities and regions is the strategy indicator framework itself, as it can be used to support with designing and constructing circular buildings. In this framework, the four building design strategies (Reduce, Synergise, Supply and Manage) are applied to seven impact areas (Materials, Energy, Water, Biodiversity, Health &Wellbeing, Human culture & society, Multiple form of value - other value creation).

For a number of strategies, sub-strategies are introduced that form the basis for potential indicators. As part of this study, a rough inventory was done based on existing standards and frameworks to get an idea of what indicators could be used for the sub-strategies. Although this is not the core of this work, the results of this inventory of indicators can be found in Annex I. Ultimately the framework is meant to provide guidance to developers and architects on how to design and construct a circular building. It needs to connect the practices on the building site (and at the drawing table) to the desired impacts and characteristics associated with a circular building. Detailed descriptions of the strategies and sub-strategies for each impact area are provided in the report.

The proposed (sub-)strategies can be used as an inspiration or even become an integral part of Circular Systemic Solutions that focus on the construction and built environment sector. Furthermore, the indicators suggested in the report can be used to measure how effective a circular solution is and where interventions might be required.

How to use this tool or method

The aim of the report is twofold: to provide stakeholders from government, business and academia with a basic framework to approach circularity in buildings; and to accelerate the transition to a circular built environment by suggesting strategies and indicators for integrations into leading global standards for sustainable buildings, like BREEAM.

Social aspects

analysis of future skills needs, alignment with social partners

including citizens

Territories involved

large 500 000-200 000, medium 200 000-50 000, and small cities 50 000-5 000

large metropolitan area >1.5 million, metropolitan area 1.5 million-500 000

predominantly urban regions, intermediate and predominantly rural regions, refer to TERCET typology NUTS 3 region