CIRCONOMY® Hub “Material cycles in the construction sector”

The Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP in Holzkirchen and the Fraunhofer Center for International Management and Knowledge Economy IMW in Leipzig found and establish the CIRCONOMY® Hub “Material Cycles in the Construction Sector”. The hub's mission is to establish and expand a network of physical development centers for building material recycling, as well as to develop tools and methods to transfer construction waste into equivalent or higher-value recycling processes.

sustainable usage of raw materials and materials
© Shutterstock

In view of the global scarcity of resources, recycling processes are important levers for the sustainable usage of raw materials and materials. Nevertheless, only small proportions are currently left in the resource cycle and put to new uses. The increasing cost pressure due to problems in the availability of resources in the construction industry combined with the sustainable finance concept as well as current changes in the legal framework with regard to sustainability act as fundamental drivers.

Mountain of building rubble
© Shutterstock / Sytilin Pavel

Recycling must not only become more ecologically sustainable, but also economically advantageous over the disposal of building materials in landfills. This could be achieved by establishing legal requirements and / or using innovative and efficient technologies. Developing and testing corresponding processes for the construction industry is intended to form the basis for improved separation, processing and recycling of building waste. This closes gaps in individual material cycles and creates new recycling cycles.

Sustainable house in a tree
© Shutterstock / Sergey Nivens

The principal objective of the CIRCONOMY® Hub “Material Cycles in the Construction Sector” is to strengthen sustainability in the construction industry. To reach this goal, a close combination of technological and socio-economic research combined with activities and initiatives for networking and knowledge transfer is required. The CIRCONOMY® Hub identifies and researches common value cycles across corporate boundaries. This leads to the development of corresponding processes, materials and solutions to market maturity on a pilot plant scale in prototype labs.

Technological progress
© Shutterstock / Peshkova

The CIRCONOMY® Hub "Material Cycles in the Construction Sector" focuses on developing technologies and on anticipating changing general conditions in order to close various building material cycles. Specifically and among others, this involves the following areas:

  • Physical, chemical and other separation processes for compound and composite materials
  • Recyclable building materials, including the development of new, bio-based materials (e.g. alternatives to existing ETICS (thermal insulation composite systems)
  • Sorting and detection systems (e.g. for asbestos) for recycling companies
  • Integration of recycling strategies in the design and construction process

In addition, tools and methods will be developed to ensure end-to-end, optimized material flows in the construction sector.

Another major task of the CIRCONOMY® Hub is to transfer knowledge and innovation to the technology areas addressed. The “Material Cycles in the Construction Sector” hub forms a link between industry, society and science and organizes an ongoing dialog between the stakeholder groups. Externally, the hub strives to position itself internationally as a network of excellence and innovation for circular economy and bioeconomy.


As part of the CIRCONOMY® Initiative and the CIRCONOMY® Hub "Material Cycles in the Construction Sector", various events are held with representatives from politics, the private sector, services and research.

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