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TU Berlin

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Circular Economy for the Built Environment (M.Sc.)

Learning Outcomes

Building construction and demolition comprise 40% of our waste stream, and buildings account for similar amounts of our embodied energy and resource usage, so moving toward a circular economy in the built environment is necessary for our sustained well being.

To enable students to design civil engineered products under consideration of circular economy aspects, at the end of the module, students will understand basic circular economy principles for the built environment such as closed materials loops, reduced waste and increased reuse, (2) are familiar with prevailing and emerging practices such as LCI (Life Cycle Impact) analysis, adaptive reuse project planning, and BIM (Building Information Modeling) for interface and multi-physics analysis, and (3) have knolwedge of a subset of the most common methods and software tools used for executing those practices such as the Excel based Capital Expenditure & ROI workbook, Autodesk Revit®, and Tally®.

A significant part of the course will be a project through which the participants can focus on self-study of a tool set of particular interest to them (such as multi-physics plug-ins to BIM, system dynamics modeling, scan-to-BIM, etc.) and its application to a problem of interest such as reuse of construction materials, buildings as materials banks, or abiotic resource depletion related to a class of infrastructure assets. On completion of the course, participants can apply a broad circular economy systems perspective to built environment issues, identify knowledge gaps and problems of interest, set the boundaries for a subsystem problem analysis, and be able to select and learn to use appropriate available tools for the analysis.


  • Materials and product flows

  • Product modeling for the circular economy: architectural, structural, electrical, and mechanical
  • Embodied energy and Life-Cycle assessment
  • Modules, interfaces, and disassembly
  • Status assessment of building components: structural capacity, market value, and aesthetics
  • Non destructive testing and evaluation
  • Markets in a circular economy: district, city, regional, national, and international
  • System dynamics modeling
  • Urban databases: embodied energy and materials, reuse potential, etc.
  • Option Appraisal for Building Adaptation
  • Renovation and reuse project planning and definition

The module will be provided in collaboration with the University of Waterloo. The collaboration will involve joint lectures and student exchanges during the work on the project assignment.

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