Houseful is a Horizon 2020 project aimed at developing technological solutions and business models for the creation of sustainable and highly energy-efficient residential buildings. To do so, it has attracted the participation of multiple companies and organisations across various European countries, with a focus on key areas: energy efficiency in building construction and operation, integration of renewable energy, management of energy and water, and use of sustainable and circular materials. In short, the Houseful project aims at transforming the way in which residential buildings are built and operated in Europe, promoting the transition towards a low-carbon economy and improving quality of life for citizens.
Building Circularity MethodologyAs part of the project’s holistic solutions, a building circularity methodology (BCM) has been developed to evaluate the efficiency of circular economy (CE) solutions for the housing sector. The methodology, aligned with Level(s) — an EU framework of core sustainability indicators and general standards for sustainable buildings — assesses circularity according to six CE pillars by evaluating Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) from a life cycle perspective (from the extraction of raw materials to end-of-life utilisation). These are material flow analysis indicators for the main natural resources used in building construction (i.e. energy, water, and raw materials) and impact indicators related to sustainability (i.e. social, environmental, and economic impacts).
Evaluating the degree of circularity based on six CE pillars
- Energy circularity is measured according to the rate of circular energy used over the total embodied and operational energy. Circular energy refers to on-site and/or nearby renewable energy and energy savings in raw material extraction, building parts manufacturing, building operation and end-of-life processes.
- Water circularity refers to the rate of water used circularly in the water footprint of a building. Circular water represents a valorisation of the water savings and greywater/rainwater recovery in all life cycle stages.
- As per the material circularity, the methodology considers the 10-R framework, thus evaluating the recyclable content and reused products and components, along with Construction and Demolition Waste (C&DW) minimisation, as well as the amount of recyclable material and number of reusable products and parts at the end-of-life stage.
- The social impact indicator focuses on the well-being of building users and the observance of production, construction, and waste treatment practices that improve social fairness. It is based on social requirements that are established by frameworks and certifications, such as Level(s), LEED, WELL, Cradle to Cradle and standards of Building Sustainability.
- The environmental impact indicator considers the entire life cycle of a building and compares its greenhouse gas emissions with and without the use of CE solutions. This provides a comprehensive understanding of the reduction in the environmental impact of a building as a result of CE solutions implementation.
- Finally, the economic impact indicator analyses the economic performance of the implemented solutions from a life-cycle perspective. It compares the life cycle costing (LCC) of a building with and without CE solutions, considering factors such as maintenance costs and energy and water savings.