The construction industry is one of the world´s largest consumers of resources (sand, building materials) and produces significant amounts of waste. Simultaneously it is one of the least digitalized industries. With increasing levels of urbanization, scarceness of resources and lack of landfills, the policy of circular economy (CE) is becoming increasingly important in the construction industry. The European Union is obliging material recovery of construction and demolition waste to a minimum of 70% by weight by 2020 for all new construction projects. Simultaneously, digitalization in construction is one of the major goals in the EU digitalization action plan.
We thereby hypothesize that digital technologies have significant potential to support CE in Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) in multiple ways – for assessment of resources as well as for the prediction and optimization of upcoming waste and recycling masses. Based on our conducted and ongoing research projects - BIMaterial: Process-Design for a BIM-based Material Passport; SCI_BIM: Scanning and data capturing for the Integrated Resources and Energy Assessment using Building Information Modeling; and finally a Case Study reviewing digital tools and processes within a large design and planning company (DPC) - we assess to which degree and to what purpose digital technologies are used, and define the potentials and challenges for the realization of CE objectives in the construction industry.
Based on the conducted assessment, we propose a framework for a Digital Platform for Circular Economy (DEEP), integrating various stakeholders and data repositories on the external (inter)-firm and internal (intra)-firm level, using open interfaces. Such a platform for the AEC aims to optimize the use of resources in the circular economy – from cradle to grave, foster mutual learning and coordination, and finally generate added value along the life cycle of a building project.
Keywords: BIM, Material Passport, Eco-Indicators, Resources, Modeling, Urban Mining