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Circular Life of Buildings: Designing out obsolescence

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Executive Summary

Lead contributor: Ilma Jabeen

Buildings are a crucial part of society. We live in buildings and use them as offices, schools, hospitals, etc. We have a different type of building to meet our unique needs. However, the way we build these structures is not sustainable. The way buildings are constructed today is resource extensive where natural minerals are extracted from nature, manufactured into products, and then disposed of. This linear approach leads to significant global emissions and waste generation. 

While global economies are trying to shift to more sustainable ways of living, the building sector continues to be traditional. The transformation is needed on technical, financial, economic, and industrial levels. Technological advancements like prefabrication, standardization of products and design for deconstruction are growing in the field. These tools help close the loop of the materials and products to allow for their continued application. While planning for the future, it is crucial to preserve the existing buildings and slow down resource flow by maintaining existing ones and repairing them when damaged. With the increasing global population, it is inevitable to optimize what we build. Contemporary concepts like a design for longevity allow buildings to be utilized to the best of their technical strength. Designing with flexibility and disassembly in mind makes it easy to recover elements from the building after use instead of demolishing the entire building. These are effective ways to prevent waste generation. Along with technological advancement, the business transformation is needed with innovative business models like take-back schemes and products as a service. When the users can return the components back to the manufacturer, he can assure the reuse of these elements. Most of the circular building projects take more time to construct and cost more than traditional building construction. For stakeholders to abide by these changes, there need to be viable incentives such as rent premiums, tax subsidies, a better yield on investment, etc. 

There is a grave need for collaboration on the building level and amongst other sectors and cities through industrial symbiosis and urban symbiosis. Moving to a circular built environment also implies a transition from a skills perspective. Various stakeholders, be it building owners, labour and workers or asset managers, all need to be trained about how different this novel approach is. Comprehensive knowledge of circular building construction should be made available, providing practical guidance on incorporating different elements of the Circular Economy into the construction sector. 

How you will learn?

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Discover what's inside

Why building sector needs to be circular?

Explore how to make buildings circular and why the building sector needs to be circular starting with the importance of buildings in our society and shedding light on the impacts of the construction sector on the environment and society as a whole.

What is Circular Economy for buildings?

Discover the concept of circular building while focusing on the various differences, divergence and contrast between linear and circular approaches of construction and touch upon the crucial role that cities and governments play in the transition

How can buildings be circular?

The state of the art of the transition into a Circular Economy in the building sector is at a nascent stage. Unlock great knowledge now on the status of the transition in this sector and discover the barriers and challenges that are causing obstructions.

What are the opportunities and barriers to the transition?

Explore diverse and exceptional direct and indirect opportunities associated with the Circular Economy. Learn all about the various drivers that play a crucial role in accelerating the transition such as the technological, political, and financial drivers.

What are the strategies to build circular buildings?

Discover in a comprehensive approach how to optimize the future of buildings, Contemporary concepts like a design for longevity, flexibility, and its relevance for longevity. Get clear insights on the role of materiality and energy consumption of buildings that need adaptations.

What is Product Life Extension for Buildings?

The life of existing buildings should be enhanced with solutions like repair, restoration, maintenance, and adaptive reuse. Discover here the strategy and key enabler of product life extension. In addition, to the differences between strategic tools like maintenance, restoration, renovation, and adaptive reuse.

Closing the Loop!

Explore how to close the loop for construction materials at different levels. At the building level how resources are mapped for urban symbiosis; at the product level the difference between direct and indirect reuse; at material level activities like recycling, downcycling and industrial symbiosis.

Take Action: Go Circular

Discover how to overcome the existing challenges of a Circular Economy. The urgency to move from a linear approach to a regenerative model where waste and emissions are reduced by keeping the materials and components at continuous use with the highest intrinsic value.

Meet the Leader

Meet the leaders supporting the Certification program!

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Enrollment Information

  • Once you have enrolled, you will be given access to our Learning Management System.
  • The course is entirely online and self-paced. We estimate that the total effort required to be 3 hours.
  • You will be guided through the original content of the course with dynamic, rich, enjoyable, narrated, and easy-to-understand content. The course is divided into easily navigated sections focusing at each stage on the learning objectives to be achieved. Each section is followed by non-graded “knowledge check questions”, to help you ensure that you have successfully assimilated the content. You can go back and view the content as often as you like.
  • When you reach the end of the course, you will be awarded the Certificate of Completion.

What you will gain

  • Access to one Circular Economy course, with free access to the content for one year.
  • A digitally enabled, verifiable, and shareable certificate acknowledging your achievement.
  • One-year free membership in the Circular Economy Alliance Community, including access to Circular Economy Alliance members, resources, and events.
  • Special access to Circular Economy related events, research, resources, and news.

Please note:

  • In many EU countries, the cost of certification can be covered by personal or corporate “training accounts”. Please inquire within your organization or with the appropriate institution within your country for more information.


Circular Economy Alliance Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics

The Circular Economy Alliance platform, services, and products are designed to appeal to and be used by people from a wide variety of different backgrounds, countries, religions, and cultural norms. These diversity and inclusiveness are core values of the CEA, and we encourage our Community to embrace it and share it. That said, this geographic and cultural diversity can make effective communications and general policy definition a bit challenging.

That said, CEA is committed to advancing the transition to a just and inclusive Circular Economy which aims to decouple economic growth from resource use, eliminate waste by design, and tackle climate change. To achieve its mission and vision of a socially fair Circular Economy, CEA has adopted the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility and endeavours to promote the common good while creating value for all stakeholders. With this in mind, the Code of Conduct has been developed to ensure all activity on the platform and within the CEA community is mutually respectful. The Code of Ethics sets out the guiding ethical principles relative to all professional activities of the certified members of the Circular Economy Alliance, informs the actions of our partner network, and defines the conduct of CEA staff and persons acting on behalf of the Company.

The purpose of our Code of Conduct & Code of Ethics is to ensure that the Circular Economy Alliance platform (the Platform), products and services are inclusive and that we, our members, and our community uphold the principles and values linked to Circular Economy, social responsibility, sustainable development and all relevant domains, to ensure that people and the planet are not harmed in the name of profit, and that we all conduct ourselves with mutual respect.

Code of Conduct

The CEA Code of Conduct reflects the ethics and values of the Platform, product, services, and community. It has been prepared with members of the CEA community (the Community), content contributors, instructional designers, and administrators based on established best practices. With the involvement of our stakeholders, we will continue to update the Code of Conduct as we add new products, services, and activities and as we receive feedback from our learners and community members.

We cannot foresee all eventualities and align with all local regulations, so the Code of Conduct should indicate the nature of interactions and the social dynamic we would like to see on this Platform and within the Community. In the event of an issue not covered by this Code of Conduct, the CEA team will decide whether a behavior is acceptable or not, in a manner that is as fair and transparent as possible, while respecting the confidentiality of all involved.

This Code of Conduct applies to all activities on the Talent Learning Management Platform, the Circular Economy Alliance website, its social media pages (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Discord, etc.), including comments, forum posts, and private messages.

Certified Alumni, members of the Community, as well as candidates for Circular Economy certification are encouraged to adopt the following guidelines for conduct:

  • Contribute to maintaining a safe, supportive, and orderly online learning environment that is conducive to learning and to show respect and dignity to other persons and to property.
  • Contact or communicate with CEA administrators and other personnel in a respectful, positive manner.
  • Behave and communicate on and off the Platform in accordance with the principles of Circular Economy, social responsibility, and inclusiveness.
  • Help ensure all CEA members and personnel have a positive experience in all interactions with you.
  • Appropriate behavior we encourage is as follows: communicating and interacting with respect; demonstrating empathy and sensitivity; giving constructive feedback; acting in accordance with the principles of inclusiveness, that is, showing respect for other norms, cultures, life preferences; promoting the values and principles of Circular Economy, social responsibility, and sustainable development.
  • Maintain behavior free from all forms of bullying, harassment, and discrimination.
  • Other forms of inappropriate behavior that will not be tolerated include dangerous, inciteful, or hateful speech; harassment or intimidation; threats of violence; intentional disruption of online discussion, webinars, conference, or other events; retaliation; influencing or encouraging any of the above.
  • We are a learning community, united around the principles of Circular Economy. As such, we encourage experimentation, a growth mindset, and tolerance for failures, mistakes, or lack of understanding.
  • Despite our shared values, disagreements and misunderstandings are bound to occur in a community as diverse as the Community. In the event, have a calm discussion, ask for clarification, and don’t assume that someone is intentionally being offensive.
  • Please get in touch with the site administrators to report any conduct, posts, activity or content that you do not believe is in accordance with this Code of Conduct. We encourage the Community members to report any incidents that violate the Code of Conduct. The CEA team will respond in a timely manner, and the member who violated the Code of Conduct will be contacted directly. Please use the Contact Us link to report any breaches.
  • Please protect your own and other people’s privacy. Please be mindful not to post or otherwise share your own or other people’s personal information publicly online.
  • Unless otherwise stated, all content posted on the Talent Learning Management System is private and is not searchable online.
  • Unless otherwise stated, all content posted on the Community platform is publicly visible and searchable online.
  • If you delete your CEA Community account, you can request that your Community posts and private messages be removed or anonymized.
  • The website administrators may delete activity, comments, posts, and equivalent that do not adhere to the CEA Code of Conduct.
  • In the event of a breach of the Code of Conduct, we either issue a warning, announce an account suspension or, in the event of a grievous violation, we may announce account expulsion and removal from the platform and the Community.
  • If you are part of the Community, we share the same principles. Let’s share the responsibility for creating a positive dynamic on the Platform.

Code of Ethics 

Certified Alumni, members of the Community, as well as candidates for Circular Economy certification are strongly encouraged to uphold the highest standards of ethical norms in line with Circular Economy principles and values:

  • Act with transparency, honesty, integrity, and make the interests of society and the environment a priority, avoid any known conflicts of interest, and aim to create value for all stakeholders.
  • Promote the circularity and sustainability of the systems regulating economic life according to the principles of “people, planet and prosperity”.
  • Act with respect for others and the environment and practice their professional activities in an inclusive and non-discriminatory manner that upholds the values of equity, equality and tolerance.
  • Exercise their leadership and decision-making skills in the pursuit of establishing a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace and in society.
  • Act in a way that furthers the integrity of the discipline of Circular Economy and its representatives.

The code of conduct is regularly reviewed to reflect necessary adaptations that emerge from input received through our CEA members’ reporting or by changes to the prevailing regulatory framework.

Effective as of: 1 March 2022

Last revised: 28 February 2022

More detailed information can me found in the General Terms and Conditions and the Certifications Terms and Conditions.


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