Uses of building information modelling for overcoming barriers to a circular economy

Rabia Charef, Stephen Emmitt

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79 Citations (SciVal)


The current linear economy approach of the construction industry is partly responsible for the environmental impact of the sector. The urgent need to move towards a more circular approach is becoming a priority and concurrently the use of building information modelling (BIM) is now mandated in many countries. However, the use of BIM for the management of a building’ end-of-life is still quite rare. A literature review was conducted to explore the state of the art of BIM uses in the building industry, which included academic sources and non-academic studies. This was followed by 20 semi-structured interviews with experts in the field of architecture and circular economy or BIM. The aim was to explore what would be the BIM uses that may help practitioners to adopt a circular economy approach. Analysis of the data identified 35 BIM uses that may foster the implementation of a circular economy approach. 28 of these were extracted from the literature, of which 19 were reported by the interviewees as having potential for helping with the management of the building's end-of-life and recovered materials. Seven new BIM uses were identified from analysis of the interview data, which may provide guidance and support for the adoption of the circular economy approach.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124854
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date10 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank sincerely all the individual practitioners who contributed to the research findings. Their time and participation in both the survey and the follow-up interviews are greatly appreciated. This work was supported by an Institutional Links grant, ID 429388357 , under the Newton Fund partnership. The grant is funded by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Ton Duc Thang University in Vietnam and delivered by the British Council .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • BIM uses
  • Building information modelling
  • Circular economy
  • End-of-Life
  • Material bank

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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