We explore questions about the materiality of the built environment and its sustainability. Our overall goal is advancing circularity holistically in the built environment at the level of cities and regions, and to this end we aim to describe, understand and evaluate urban-rural circular spaces and to contribute to their development. We are concerned with minimising the consumption of natural resources as well as minimising grey emissions and land encroachment. Our particular focus is on spatial constellations of resource availability, supply, stock and demand. From this perspective, we understand the built environment as part of socio-ecological-technical systems, which in physical terms encompass buildings, infrastructures and anthropogenically modified open spaces.
We develop digital material cadastres for cities and regions in order to quantify the material stocks of existing settlement structures and their changes. In this way, the effects of settlement policy decisions, social demand and technical or social innovations in the provision and use of buildings and infrastructures can be estimated. Methodologically, we combine approaches of continuous material flow analysis, process chain analyses, life cycle assessments, land use related analytical approaches and analyses of the development of the built environment. This enables us to assess effects in terms of resource consumption, grey emissions and land use. Taking into account innovative business models to strengthen circular approaches to the development of the built environment and their specification in different spatial contexts, we want to contribute to developing cities and regions into “circular spaces”. These are characterised by maximising resource conservation and minimising material-induced emissions.
With the "IOER Information System Built Environment" (ISBE), we support scientists and actors, especially in urban, regional and environmental planning as well as industry by providing information on the materiality of the built environment, embedded in a comprehensive concept that addresses issues of resource conservation and the management of environmental risks and resilience. In this way, we aim to contribute to implementing circular concepts in practice.