Circularity presumes that all energy and materials come(s) from renewable sources at or below renewable rates; and waste (including emissions) can only be released at or below assimilation rate, without negative impacts for the ecosystem or biodiversity (Huesemann & Huesemann, 2011). Circularity indicators measure the absolute volumes or relative percentages of renewable (and actually renewed), respectively reused and recycled materials (fuels being some of them). Relative numbers can be misleading due to rebound effects and consumption growth, but the absolute numbers show if we are at or below the aforementioned rates, and stay (per capita, region, society or as humankind) within budget and planetary boundaries.
Circularity creates several big challenges for the Built Environment. On the level of spatial planning, the challenge is to measure which activities contribute to the various footprints to what extent, and to develop proposals for reduction in the field of travel, mobility, industry, food and energy. Spatial planning on regional, national, continental or even planetary level should also allow the sustainable and renewed production of bio based materials. On the level of new buildings, a major challenge is to create near Zero Energy Buildings, without metals. They are both non-renewable (i.e. will be depleted) and contribute substantially to various harmful emissions. The current industry depends on them, but it is essential to develop design concepts that do not rely on either resource while meeting our standards. Then on the level of products and materials, the challenge is to develop innovative bio based products for applications where traditional bio based materials (e.g. timber) do not suffice. It is moreover essential to find ways to reduce the emissions of production of various non-renewable materials. And finally to increase the volume and efficiency of reuse and recycling of particularly metals, plastics and minerals. In this project, you get to choose a scale level, being either spatial planning, building or products/materials, and you research a problem in this area, tutored by one or more specialists in that field. You will work on real life cases.