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Special Issue "Towards a Circular Housing Economy"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 April 2021) | Viewed by 6274

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Vincent Gruis
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Management in the Built Environment, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft, Delft University of Technology, P.O. Box 5043, 2600 GA Delft Nederland, The Netherlands
Interests: housing; real estate management; circular economy; supply chain partnering; research through design
Prof. Dr. Tillmann Klein
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Architectural Engineering and Technology, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, TU Delft, Delft University of Technology, 2628BL Delft, The Netherlands
Interests: circular building products; energy renovation; façade design and engineering

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The construction and renovation of housing requires vast amounts of natural resources. The housing sector also generates about one third of all waste in the EU. Thus, increasing resource efficiency in the housing sector is of great importance for a sustainable society. In the past few decades, most attention in academic studies and societal debates has been given to the important challenge of how to increase the energy efficiency in housing and how to reduce carbon emissions. In more recent years, the debate on how to reduce material use and waste has gained momentum, resulting among others in the ambition of the European Commission to ensure that the design of new and renovated buildings is in line with the needs of the circular economy. Nevertheless, the amount of scholarly articles on the creation of a circular economy in housing is still scarce.

The purpose of the Special Issue “Towards a Circular Housing Economy” is to give an impetus to the academic debate about this important societal challenge. The Special Issue welcomes scientific reviews and empirical analyses of (inter)national government policies, business strategies, housing systems, and household behavior focusing on achieving a circular housing economy, both as a challenge in itself as in relation to other big societal developments such as the growing housing shortage, urbanization, ageing population, and climate change.

Prof. Dr. Vincent Gruis
Prof. Dr. Tillmann Klein
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Housing
  • Circular economy
  • Resource efficiency
  • Built environment
  • Household preferences and behavior
  • Business models
  • Design for circularity
  • Circular life cycle analysis

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

Article
Expandable Houses: An Explorative Life Cycle Cost Analysis
Sustainability 2021, 13(12), 6974; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13126974 - 21 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1170
Abstract
In addition to the environmental burden of its construction and demolition activities, the Flemish housing market faces a structural affordability challenge. As one possible answer, this research explores the potential of so-called expandable houses, being built increasingly often. Through specific design choices that [...] Read more.
In addition to the environmental burden of its construction and demolition activities, the Flemish housing market faces a structural affordability challenge. As one possible answer, this research explores the potential of so-called expandable houses, being built increasingly often. Through specific design choices that enable the disassembly and future reuse of individual components and so align with the idea of a circular economy, expandable houses promise to provide ever-changing homes with a smaller impact on the environment and at a lower cost for clients. In this paper, an expandable house suitable for various housing needs is conceived through a scenario-based research-by-design approach and compared to a reference house for Flanders. Subsequently, for both houses the life cycle costs are calculated and compared. The results of this exploration support the proposition that designing expandable houses can be a catalyst for sustainable, circular housing development and that households could benefit from its social, economic and ecological qualities. It requires, however, a dynamic perspective on evaluating their life-cycle impact. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Towards a Circular Housing Economy)
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Article
Environmental Design Guidelines for Circular Building Components: The Case of the Circular Building Structure
Sustainability 2021, 13(10), 5621; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13105621 - 18 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1478
Abstract
Transitioning to a circular built environment can reduce the environmental impacts, resource consumption and waste generation emanating from buildings. However, there are many options to design circular building components, and limited knowledge on which options lead to the best environmental performance. Few guidelines [...] Read more.
Transitioning to a circular built environment can reduce the environmental impacts, resource consumption and waste generation emanating from buildings. However, there are many options to design circular building components, and limited knowledge on which options lead to the best environmental performance. Few guidelines exist and they build on conventional environmental performance assessments that focus on single life cycles, whereas the circular economy (CE) focuses on a sequence of multiple use- and life cycles. In this article, environmental design guidelines for circular building components were developed in five steps. First, examples of circular variants of a building structure were synthesized. Second, the environmental performance of these variants was compared with a business-as-usual variant through Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) and Material Flow Analysis (MFA) respectively. Circular parameters of these variants were tested using a scenario-specific approach. Third, from 24 LCAs and MFAs, a scorecard, rules-of-thumb and nine environmental design guidelines for designing circular building components were developed that provide guidance on which circular pathways and variants lead to the best environmental performance. For components with a long functional–technical lifespan, the following are promoted: resource efficiency, longer use through adaptable design, low-impact biomaterials and facilitating multiple cycles after and of use. Fourth, the design guidelines were evaluated by 49 experts from academia, industry and government in seven expert sessions. Further research is needed to validate the generalizability of the design guidelines. However, this research makes an important step in supporting the development of circular building components and, subsequently, the transition to a circular built environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Towards a Circular Housing Economy)
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Article
Energy Refurbishment of Family Houses in Serbia in Line with the Principles of Circular Economy
Sustainability 2021, 13(10), 5463; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13105463 - 13 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 592
Abstract
To achieve material efficiency, the ongoing initiative to improve thermal properties of family houses in the Republic of Serbia should include harmonization with internationally established and nationally adjusted principles of circular economy. The overall aim of this study was to propose a methodology [...] Read more.
To achieve material efficiency, the ongoing initiative to improve thermal properties of family houses in the Republic of Serbia should include harmonization with internationally established and nationally adjusted principles of circular economy. The overall aim of this study was to propose a methodology for optimal decision making between alternative materials and components for energy refurbishment of façades in existing family houses. Together with developed criteria, and their belonging indicators, the methodology was tested on selected case study houses located in the central zone of the city of Belgrade. Using the VIKOR method, five suggested scenarios and three sub-scenarios for façade thermal upgrades were assessed against five determined types of criteria: Economic Cost, Function, Circularity Features, Appearance, and Innovativeness. Obtained results—ranking lists of proposed scenarios—indicate that the optimal solution for energy refurbishment of façades in existing houses could include polyurethane insulation material in combination with the wooden window frames and low-E insulation glass. In future research, it will be necessary to introduce an additional assessment criterion related to the ecological quality of proposed scenarios, as the study revealed that a gap between circularity-related quality, and ecological sustainability, of building materials could be significant. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Towards a Circular Housing Economy)
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Article
Towards Circular Social Housing: An Exploration of Practices, Barriers, and Enablers
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2100; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042100 - 16 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2373
Abstract
The concept of Circular Economy (CE) and its application in the built environment is an emerging research field. Scholars approach CE from various perspectives covering a wide range of topics from material innovation to city-scale application. However, there is little research on CE [...] Read more.
The concept of Circular Economy (CE) and its application in the built environment is an emerging research field. Scholars approach CE from various perspectives covering a wide range of topics from material innovation to city-scale application. However, there is little research on CE implementation in housing stock, particularly that which is managed or owned by the social housing organisations (SHOs) and which offers opportunities to generate circular flows of materials at the portfolio level. This research focuses on Dutch SHOs and uses the Delphi method to examine CE practices in their asset management, as well as the main barriers to and potential enablers of its uptake. The analysis of two iterative rounds of expert questioning indicates that Dutch SHOs are in the early experimental phase in CE implementation. From the results, it is evident that organisational, cultural, and financial barriers are the most pressing ones that hinder the wider adoption of CE in their asset management. Building on the panel input, this study suggests potential enablers to overcome these barriers, such as CE legislation, best practice case studies, commitment and support from the top management, and the creation of a clear business case. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Towards a Circular Housing Economy)
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