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PhD project within Circular Built Environment


Vibeke Grupe Larsen,
Industrial PhD


Danish Association of Architectural Firms,
University of Southern Denmark, SDU,
Danmark Almene Boliger


Circular transition of social housing: Generating environmental, economic, and social co-benefits by design

The construction and real estate industry is directly and indirectly responsible for approximately 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, it is relevant to consider the industry as a focal point for the necessary transition to a circular economy, as described by the EU Commission through the European Green Deal as a growth strategy and, subsequently in the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan.

Understanding the circular processes related to buildings and their lifecycle is essential to ensure the successful implementation of the transformation of the Danish construction industry into a circular economy. However, the construction industry still largely adheres to a linear approach.

The research project, “Circular transition of affordable housing – Generating Social, Environmental, and Economic value by Design” examines the contextual prerequisites for necessary systemic change in the industry. Starting with affordable housing, a significant area within Denmark’s construction sector, this initiative charts a course for future endeavors. Affordable housing constitutes 20% of Denmark’s housing and accommodates 1 million residents within a population of 5.8 million. It is noteworthy that housing organizations within affordable housing own and operate properties, which should incentive a transition to the circular economy. The fundamental argument is that transforming operational paradigms within affordable housing can set an example that can be applied to the broader construction sector.

The research comprises four scholarly articles assessing contemporary tools and methods for facilitating the CE transition (Larsen et al., 2022b) and revealing fundamental insights for exploring obstacles and drivers (Larsen et al., 2022a). Systematic studies target architectural consultants, examining their competencies as well as their commitment to societal value-creation and the principles of circular transformation (Larsen et al., 2023a). Additionally, stakeholders in the public sector are engaged through interviews, shedding light on factors that influence and hinder CE adoption (Larsen et al., 2023b).

These multifaceted investigations culminate in a decision framework that integrates the principles of the circular economy into the development of THE affordable housing sector and outlines critical areas requiring structural and contractual adjustments, while leveraging these findings to influence the direction of Denmark’s broader construction sector.


Erhvervs-Ph.D. booster den grønne omstilling i den almene boligsektor. Danske Arkitektvirsomheder. Newsletter, August, 2020.
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Byggeri skal understøtte vores liv – ikke udsulte vores naturressourcer. Licitationen, September, 2020.
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Fem stærke bud på landskabsarkitekternes bidrag til FN’s Verdensmål. Danske Landskabsarkitekters Høstdebat. February, 2021.
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Verdensmål: Få inspiration fra ni arkitektvirksomheder. Danske arkitektvirksomheder. December, 2020.
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Bæredygtig arkitektur med Vibeke Grupe Larsen. HOLMRIS B8 Circular.
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Visdommen i Nej’et til Business as Usual…
LinkedIn, April 1, 2023
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The 17 Global Goals – How to get going. Danske Arkitektvirksomheder
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De 17 verdensmål – Sådan kommer I i gang! Danske Arkitektvirksomheder
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Grupe Larsen, V., Tollin, N., Sattrup, P. A., Birkved, M., Holmboe, T. (2022). What are the challenges in assessing circular economy for the built environment? A literature review on integrating LCA, LCC, and S-LCA in life cycle sustainability assessment, LCSA. Journal of Building Engineering. Elsevier. ScienceDirect.
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Vibeke the Industrial Researcher, who Believes in the Power of Communication. Circular Passions. April, 2022.
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Medlemsundersøgelse: Arkitektvirksomheder og bæredygtighed. Danske Arkitektvirksomheder. Newsletter, April, 2022
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Erhvervsforsker: Byggesektoren må væk fra cowboyøkonomien, for at vi kan nå vores klimamål. Byrumsmonitor. August, 2022.
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Larsen, V.G., et al., Filling the gaps – Circular transition of affordable housing. Sustainable Built Environment; conference Berlin 2022.
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Larsen, V.G., et al., A Methodological Framework to Foster Social Value Creation in Architectural Practice. Sustainability, 2023. 15(15  ): p. 25.
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