Circularity in the Built Environment: A Goal or a Means?

Tom B.J. Coenen*, Klaasjan Visscher, Leentje Volker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

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To reach a circular built environment, the changes and solutions of such mission need to align with the challenges a Circular Economy (CE) aims to solve. Despite the rather uniform policies on the goals and challenges of circular construction, the understanding of CE among practitioners appears divergent. Using the concept of problem space and solution space in relation to missions, the various perceptions, interpretations and framings of the CE mission in the Dutch construction industry were studied by means of 20 semi-structured interviews. Results indicate that the perceptions of the underlying challenges vary from mere resource scarcity to wide societal reforms, including social equity and climate neutrality. Also, the relation with other concepts seems contested, particularly regarding sustainability. The problems CE aims to address and the solutions to reach such CE turned out to interact and even intertwine in the conceptualizations of CE. Mission achievement hence calls for convergence of both the problem and the solution space acknowledging the mission’s co-evolving nature. Given the resulting positioning of CE as both a means for underlying challenges and a goal in itself, we propose to understand CE as a mediation concept that couples directed solutions to a wide set of societal challenges. This implies that rather than aiming for a uniform definition, action should be aimed at dynamically guided solutions towards addressing the evolving societal challenges. Further research in other sectoral and geographical contexts is required to explore the validity and implications of CE as a mediation concept.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSDGs in Construction Economics and Organization
Subtitle of host publicationThe 11th Nordic Conference on Construction Economics and Organisation (CREON)
EditorsGöran Lindahl, Stefan Christoffer Gottlieb
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-25498-7
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-25497-0
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Event11th Nordic Conference on Construction Economics and Organisation, CREON 2022 - Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 18 May 202220 May 2022
Conference number: 11


Conference11th Nordic Conference on Construction Economics and Organisation, CREON 2022
Abbreviated titleCREON 2022


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