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 during their lifecycle. Also, they are not made of renewable, bio-based materials. This is due to most construction projects still being designed in a linear way. This approach makes it difficult to re-use 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 changes in processes, disciplines, businesses and legislation and regulations. As a consequence, the current roles of stakeholders in the construction industry will change and new roles will arise. CBCI is developing an approach that ensures coherence between technical, legal and social aspects as well as business models for bio-based and circular design and construction. The idea is that everything we develop can also be produced on an industrial scale.

Prototyping, living labs and real-life applications

We aim to develop an effective approach by carrying out design-based research. Our method is characterised by an iterative approach and the involvement of a broad range of stakeholders and experts in the studies. We organise workshops to learn about all the different perspectives.

2 real-life cases are at the heart of our research. A clinic run by mental healthcare organisation Emergis in Zeeland province and a KU Leuven university building in Ghent, Belgium, are undergoing circular renovation using bio-based materials. We will team up with stakeholders and experts to develop façade elements that will not only be tested in the lab as prototypes but also actually used on these sites.

We ensure an effective learning experience and knowledge-sharing by recording and analysing all the stages in the development processes, such as workshops, prototyping, living labs and real-life cases. Designing, testing and producing our prototypes will take place in labs in Belgium (BBRI), the Netherlands (SPARK Maker Space Lab) and the UK (BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials). They allow our researchers to use state-of-the-art production techniques and research facilities.

Expected outputs

CBCI will yield various outcomes to maximise our impact on the construction industry. Project outputs will include various publications, MOOCs, a practical guide and a feasibility study. All of these will provide current and future professionals 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 show held at Kamp C in Westerlo, Belgium. CBCI aims to foster the adoption of new solutions for the circular economy.


As lead partner in the Circular Bio-based Construction Industry project Avans is collaborating with 9 knowledge-based institutions and organisations. The following Avans institutions are involved: Centre of Applied Research Technical Innovation, Centre of Expertise Biobased Economy and the Centre of Applied Research Sustainable Business.

Research project partners are:

  • HZ University of Applied Sciences (NL)
  • University of Bath (UK)
  • KU Leuven (BE)
  • Belgian Building Research Institute (BE)
  • Flemish Construction Confederation (BE)
  • Kamp C, provincial centre for sustainable building and living (BE)
  • Emergis (NL)
  • Province of Zeeland (NL)
  • Agrodome BV (NL)

18 observer partners are also involved in the project. They participate in the workshops, where they share their knowledge of materials, business models, project organisation and the testing of prototypes.


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.