Design of a Circularity Label for the Built Environment


EngD trainee ir. Ivando Lossio Jr
University supervisor Prof. dr. Bauke de Vries
Company supervisor Ir. Aart Wijnen
Name of company De Twee Snoeken
Period of project Feb 2019 – Jan 2021


This project is the result of a partnership between the Eindhoven University of  Technology and De Twee Snoeken. While the university offers the support and a  structured programme for the development of this project, the company aims to  enhance their products, BouwConnect and WoonConnect and follow the progress of  the built environment towards more sustainable and circular ventures.  BouwConnect is the largest BIM library in the Netherlands and WoonConnect is an  integral platform for planning and performing calculations for digital house models,  mostly used in large scale housing renovation projects in the Netherlands.  The objective of this project is to create a new software module for WoonConnect,  where a ‘circularity assessment’ is carried out or, in other words, to what degree is  the influence of a building in the circular economy. Such module needs to follow  current studies, research and market applications to stay relevant and updated. It  has also to be adherent to the whole complex architecture and qualified environment  of the current software solutions from De Twee Snoeken.  Circular Economy is a trendy topic that has been under research goggles and market  applications, mostly in consultancy, all around the world. The overwhelming  different definitions creates a context with many conceptual but few practical  solutions.

This project starts with a desk research about the current developments and studies  in the area to compose the solution’s foundation and set the major requirements for  the tool that is to be developed. This supporting basis is composed by a series of  master and doctorate theses, market benchmarks and Dutch regulations. Concepts  such as material passports, building depot, flexibility, adaptability, environmental  costs, among others, compose the theoretical background for this study.  With the foundation set, an evaluation of technologies that ‘have been’ and ‘can be’  applied to fulfil this project’s requirements was defined, being BIM the most relevant  when dealing with digital models for dwellings. Recent applications and also studies  have shown the technology’s capacity towards circular measures.

Understanding the BouwConnect and WoonConnect particularities and possibilities  ‘under the hood’ was crucial for the development of the circularity module. The vast  BouwConnect library of construction objects is first enhanced with new data with  the product’s environmental background and attributes that compose the circularity  calculations. For WoonConnect, a total new piece of code is developed, followed by  all singularities and challenges that a software solution with this dimension proposes.   The new module can’t affect other existing calculations, needs to comply  with the current architecture and must be continuously validated and tested.  A pilot project was created for this solution with a new setup that comprise the needs  for the circularity calculation. Benchmark products from Dutch environmental  performance databases were chosen and a demonstration interface arranged for  performing and showing the calculation. Besides that, a web-based reporting schema  was developed in order to allow further analysis and bring the best insights towards  circular measures.  

The main objective of such a tool is to bring knowledge to the designer and make  information about the circularity of materials, products and objects available in  order to stimulate and encourage circular measures in the built environment. Even  though the circular economy is a trendy topic, there is a gap in knowledge in terms  on the quantification of a building circularity and this tool aims to fill that gap.  The reporting schema is user-friendly and shows step-by-step calculations and what  parts in the building compose those, resulting in a circularity score and label, here  called WoonCirculariteit.