Is it time for circular construction?


Emerald and SDGs
We support the Sustainable Development Goals

The construction industry, a major global resource consumer and waste producer, significantly contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental harm.

The traditional linear model of resource use is no longer sustainable. Enter the circular economy: a smarter way to do business that prioritises material reuse, nature regeneration and impact reduction. Beyond environmental benefits, it can boost the economy and enhance wellbeing.

However, implementing circular principles in the built environment and civil engineering demands transformative shifts across design, construction, operation, and decommissioning. Collaboration with diverse stakeholders, including policymakers, regulators, clients, and users, is also essential.

In this mission, we ask:

  • How can the construction industry transition to a circular economy?
  • What are the main barriers and enablers for circular construction?
  • How can we design buildings and infrastructure that are adaptable, modular, and reusable?
  • How can digital technologies enhance circular construction efforts?

We invite authors and stakeholders to contribute to the discussion by sharing your research, insights, or viewpoints. So, if you are working on an article, have an idea for a book or would like to contribute a blog or commentary on circular construction, then we’d love to hear from you – get in touch today.

This mission supports our Sustainable structures and infrastructures goal

An introduction to circular construction

Dr Patricia Kio photo

Why circularity matters in construction

Setting the scene on circular construction is expert Dr Patricia Kio, an Assistant Professor at the Engineering Technology Department, Fitchburg State University. Dr Kio brings clarity to circular construction, highlighting the opportunities and concerns around the subject, as well as the research questions that must be addressed.

Read Patricia's blog

Free access to our blogs, video, podcast, and infographic

Featured blogs

Read our latest blogs to find out more about what our authors have to say regarding circular construction.


Circular design - building with reclaimed wood

Author: Professor Olga Popovic Larsen, Institute Architecture and Technology, Royal Danish Academy, Denmark

In this video, Professor Olga Popovic Larsen discusses her work on circular design in connection with sustainable approaches, and the impact it has made in both education and teaching to influence new building solutions working with reclaimed wood.


Circular construction: building a sustainable future

Speakers: Professor Christina Chroni and Dr Spyridon Karytsas

Host Rebecca Torr speaks with academic experts about how circular economy principles are transforming construction.

Find out more and read the transcript


Challenges in reducing waste generation from construction

Understanding the challenges faced by stakeholders in the construction industry is crucial to minimising waste and carbon dioxide emissions in the long term.

View the infographic to find out more (PDF)

Article: Maximising the construction waste reduction potential – barriers and catalysts
Authors: Subama Sivashanmugam, Sergio Rodriguez, Farzad Rahimian, Nashwan Dawood

Title: Challenges in reducing waste generation from construction

Background: The construction industry is moving towards a circular model to reduce raw material use and waste generation
Understanding the challenges faced by stakeholders in the construction industry is crucial to minimising waste and carbon dioxide emissions in the long term 

Catalysts to overcome the current waste reduction challenges in the UK

  • Adopt a systematic approach across all life cycle stages
  • Have early waste planning and reuse strategies
  • On-site waste segregation for recycling
  • Eliminate waste disposal or landfilling


Expert stakeholders interviewed online

  • Principal sustainability consultants 20%
  • Project managers and directors 10%
  • Construction site managers 20%
  • Sustainability managers involved in the design 20%
  • Managers and consultants involved in the construction phase 30%

Key challenges faced by stakeholders in reducing waste generation

  • Inadequate incorporation of waste reduction strategies from the early design stages of the project life cycle
  • Lack of digital innovation, data management, and communication among stakeholders
  • Lack of granularity in construction waste (CW) information within the context of life cycle assessments
  • Limited communication and collaboration among the supply-chain members
  • Lack of defined CW objectives

Key message: Increased emphasis on CW reduction from early design stages, increased use of digital tools, granular and clear CW data, and seamless communication and collaboration would support the built environment to shift from recycling to prevention and source reduction

Footer: Maximising the Construction Waste Reduction Potential – Barriers and Catalysts
Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers - Civil Engineering
Sivashanmugam et al. (2023) | DOI: 10.1680/jcien.22.00163

Free access to our related journal articles & book chapters

Our publications have content on different aspects of circular construction that we’d like to share with you. For a limited time only, these are free to access.

Journal articles

Find a journal for your research

Book chapters


Different routes to publication

If you would like to contribute to the discussion, take a look at our different routes to publication and contact us to get involved.

Calls for papers

View some of our calls for papers around the topic of circular construction.

View our latest calls for papers
Closing date: 02 September 2024

Life cycle assessment

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a methodology for assessing environmental impacts associated with all the stages of the life cycle of a commercial product, process, or service.

Journal of Environmental Engineering and Science
Closing date: 31 July 2024

Beyond BIM: Navigating the Transformative Journey of the AECO Industry

This special issue aims to provide a platform for global researchers in AECO-related fields, to bring together their efforts on embracing new technological innovations beyond Building Information Modelling (BIM).

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management…
Closing date: 31 May 2024

Sustainable Urban Futures: Digital Technologies Enabling Circular Economy in Cities

Cities should play a pivotal role in facilitating a transition towards a Circular Economy (CE). This special issue aims to provide a comprehensive exploration of successful case studies that highlight the adoption of digital technologies as catalysts for transitioning to a CE on a city-wide scale.

Smart and Sustainable Built Environment…
Closing date: 31 Dec 2024

Adaptive Building Services Design and Control in the Climate Change emergency

The focus of this special issue is to show current research on solutions for sustainable building energy systems performance, simulation, and design to allow the growth of circularity and Life cycle assessment (LCA) approaches to these highly impacting parts of our built environment.

Smart and Sustainable Built Environment…

Special issues

See our recently published special issues on this topic.

Find a journal for your research

Related books

Visit our online bookstore to see all our latest publications.

Browse our bookstore
ICE Manual of Geotechnical Engineering cover

ICE Manual of Geotechnical Engineering, Second edition, Volume I: Geotechnical engineering principles, problematic soils and site investigation’

Authors: Michael Brown, John Burland, Tim Chapman, Kelvin Higgins, Hilary Skinner and David Toll

Chat to us about your work

We love hearing from researchers and practitioners about their work.

If you would like to contribute to this page, or you are working on research related to Circular construction and/or Sustainable structures and infrastructures and would like to publish it in a journal, please let us know by filling in this form and we’ll get right back to you.


You can read the full information about how we use personal data in our Privacy Notice. You can simply click the ‘unsubscribe’ link in any marketing email you receive from us if you don't want to receive them.

Mission-led research – our goals

Our core area of focus is interdisciplinary research aligned with the UN SDGs, with these key goals in mind, all of which are about creating real world impact, at a time when it's needed most.

Fairer society

We are passionate about working with researchers globally to deliver a fairer, more inclusive society. This perhaps has never been more important in today’s divided world...



Healthier lives

We understand the value of a world that recognises and protects the most vulnerable and acknowledges the importance of a healthy mind as well as a healthy body...



Responsible management

We aim to champion researchers, practitioners, policymakers and organisations who share our goals of a more ethical, responsible and sustainable way of working...



Quality education for all

We believe in quality education for everyone, everywhere and by highlighting the issue and working with experts in the field, we can find ways we can all be part of the solution...



Sustainable structures and infrastructures

We recognise the transformative power of sustainable engineering, design and building practices in creating a world where our planet and its inhabitants can thrive.