Circular Bio-based Construction Industry

The EU-funded project Circular Bio-based Construction Industry (CBCI) focuses on more efficient use of raw materials in construction. This will help reduce carbon emissions during the entire life cycle of a building. At the heart of this project is the development of a comprehensive approach to circular and bio-based construction that the construction industry can build upon in the transition to a circular economy.

Circular and bio-based construction

A major consumer of materials, the construction industry accounts for approximately 33% of all carbon emissions. The components and materials currently in use often cannot be adapted, reused or recycled during or after their lifecycle. This is mainly due to the current linear approach to designing and the construction processes. Also, the majority is not made of renewable, bio-based materials. The industry needs to move away from its current ‘linear’ approach and embrace bio-based, circular construction. 

Integral approach

Circular and bio-based construction demands an integral approach, which in turn requires an evaluation and possible changes in processes, new technical applications, (other) business models, and rules and regulations. As a consequence, the current roles of stakeholders in the construction industry need to be adapted and new roles will arise. Within the CBCI project we develop an approach that ensures coherence between technical, legal and social aspects as well as business models for bio-based and circular design and construction.  In doing so, we aim for the widest possible application in practice.

Living labs, prototyping and real-life applications

Within the CBCI project, we ensure an effective learning experience and knowledge-sharing by capturing and analysing all the stages in the development processes, for example through workshops, prototyping, living labs and real-life case-studies.

Two real-life construction projects are at the heart of the CBCI project and are the so-called living labs. The first living lab is the extension of the mental healthcare clinic from the organisation Emergis in the province of Zeeland. The second one is a newly built centre for the KU Leuven university campus in Ghent, Belgium. Since the start of the project, crucial choices have been made with regard to the tendering for the living labs. For project partner Emergis (NL) Design & Build tender was chosen for the total renovation and new construction, whereas project partner KU Leuven (BE) has chosen Design & Build only for the structure and skin while lease is chosen for the plug-in modules for the HVAC systems plus the sanitary and technical installations. Through co-creation the CBCI team and the selected contractors will further elaborate the design and material choices.

Within the project we are teaming up with stakeholders and experts to develop façade elements that are not only tested in the lab as prototypes but are also actually used within the Living labs. Designing, testing and producing of the prototypes is taking place in labs in Belgium (BBRI), the Netherlands (SPARK Maker Space Lab) and the UK (BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials). These facilities allow our researchers to use state-of-the-art production techniques and research facilities. Materials that have been included in the first rounds of testing, are for example sheep wool, timber, nabasco, metisse and grass.

Project outputs and exhibitions

Project outputs will include various publications, short films, a practical guide and a feasibility study. All of these will provide current and future professionals in the construction sector with inspiration and practical information they can use in every stage of their construction projects.

The learning outcomes of the project and the materials developed will ultimately come together in an exhibition organised at Kamp C in Westerlo, Belgium and in a mobile exhibition that will travel to several locations. In order to preserve the learnings of the project for the long term, efforts are also being made to provide a practical guide and supporting teaching materials for professionals and students.


1. Five essentials for successful circular bio-based construction initiatives

The first publication from the project, entitled ‘Five essentials for successful circular bio-based construction initiatives’, was published in November 2020. The five essentials identified in the white paper are Affordability, Flexibility, Passive Materials, Integration, and Traditional Ownership. This practical white paper is available to download free of charge in English, Dutch and French via the HBO-Kennisbank.  

2. Circular and bio-based ambitions in construction projects: an integrated approach to the tendering process

The second publication from the project, entitled ‘Circular and bio-based ambitions in construction projects: an integrated approach to the tendering process’, was published in December 2021. 

The future of circular bio-based construction starts today! If you have ideas about circular bio-based construction but are unsure where to start, this whitepaper on circular and bio-based ambitions in construction projects is now available. It provides an excellent guide that you can use as a starting point. The whitepaper is of interest to professionals who are involved in procurement or tendering for new-build projects and/or renovation projects, including buyers, contract managers, policymakers, property project managers and even architects, lawyers or bankers.

By following this link and completing the form below, you can download the white paper free of charge. The white paper is available in English, Dutch and French.

3. How the legislative framework can stimulate circular, bio-based construction

The third publication from the project, entitled ‘How the legislative framework can stimulate circular, bio-based construction’, was published in May 2022.

This white paper was published in the context of the Interreg 2seas project on the Circular Bio-based Construction Industry (CBCI). It was written because producers, contractors, building owners and developers often believe that legislation and regulations prevent the wider application of circular bio-based construction. But is this really the case? In this white paper we discuss how obstructive legislation and regulations really are, how much scope there is to stimulate circular bio-based construction, which laws and regulations are important for upscaling, and how flexible legislation and regulations are in the context of function change.

By following this link and completing the form below, you can download the white paper free of charge. The white paper is available in English, Dutch and French.


As lead partner in the Circular Bio-based Construction Industry project Avans University of Applied Sciences is collaborating with 9 knowledge-based institutions and organisations and over 20 observer partners from the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK and France.

The 10 project partners are:

Within Avans the following institutions are involved: Centre of Applied Research Technical Innovation, Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy and the Centre of Applied Research Sustainable Business.

Get Involved!

Our design research approach is characterised by an iterative approach and the involvement of a broad range of stakeholders and experts. We organise workshops and meetings to learn about all the different perspectives and aim to involve project stakeholders through different means and channels. You can register for the CBCI  newsletter to stay informed about all CBCI activities. Would you like to be more involved in this project and get to know how you can contribute?  Please do contact the project team via [email protected] or directly via one of the project partners.

The entire project is set to run for almost 4 years, i.e. until 30 September 2022. Its budget adds up to nearly €7 million. CBCI is an Interreg 2 Seas 2014-2020 project. Interreg 2 Seas is a European Territorial Cooperation programme. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) financially supports CBCI.