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Extended Producer Responsibility in the Construction Sector through Blockchain, BIM and Smart Contract Technologies


Abstract and Figures

Despite the enormous amount of raw or secondary materials flowing within the construction industry, the actual available volume of materials and their respective End-of-Lifecycle (EoL) treatment is not regulated nor uniform. On top of that, the EoL responsibility of different stakeholders after the future building deconstruction is confusing and disputable. Consequently, different sustainability policies and metrics suffer from inaccurately reported volumes of circulating materials in the economy. Hence, this article aims to find a new way to improve and regulate the EoL treatment of recyclable materials and to create value for them. The ultimate goal of the proposed framework is to make original manufacturers responsible for the EoL treatment of their recyclable construction materials and products under the Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) policy that is enacted in the European Union for sustainable management of waste streams. Adhering to the EPR is difficult for buildings as they are long-term and complex assets. A high degree of transparency, accuracy and security is required to correctly track the lifecycle information of building parts and their respective manufacturers for the EPR implementation. For this purpose, a framework is conceptualised based on the immutability and transparency of blockchain technology to remove trust and trace barriers in the current supply chain. The proposed conceptual model results from the synergy of Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology, material and component banks, blockchain technology and smart contracts for the EoL treatment of recyclable materials. As a result, a data-driven and closed-loop material cycle will be accomplished. This paper demonstrates that through self-executing smart contracts, a clear line of responsibility and ownership could be defined while manufacturers could be made accountable in the post-consumer phase of their construction products.
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Extended Producer Responsibility in the Construction
Sector through Blockchain, BIM and Smart Contract
Arghavan Akbarieh1, William Carbone2, Markus Schäfer1, Danièle Waldmann3, Felix Norman Teferle1
1 Institute of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg, Luxembourg
2 Global Automotive, Aerospace and Defence, IBM, Bratislava, Slovakia
3 Institute of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Luxembourg, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg
AbstractDespite the enormous amount of raw or secondary
materials flowing within the construction industry, the actual
available volume of materials and their respective End-of-
Lifecycle (EoL) treatment is not regulated nor uniform. On top of
that, the EoL responsibility of different stakeholders after the
future building deconstruction is confusing and disputable.
Consequently, different sustainability policies and metrics suffer
from inaccurately reported volumes of circulating materials in
the economy. Hence, this article aims to find a new way to
improve and regulate the EoL treatment of recyclable materials
and to create value for them. The ultimate goal of the proposed
framework is to make original manufacturers responsible for the
EoL treatment of their recyclable construction materials and
products under the Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR)
policy that is enacted in the European Union for sustainable
management of waste streams. Adhering to the EPR is difficult
for buildings as they are long-term and complex assets. A high
degree of transparency, accuracy and security is required to
correctly track the lifecycle information of building parts and
their respective manufacturers for the EPR implementation. For
this purpose, a framework is conceptualised based on the
immutability and transparency of blockchain technology to
remove trust and trace barriers in the current supply chain. The
proposed conceptual model results from the synergy of Building
Information Modelling (BIM) technology, material and
component banks, blockchain technology and smart contracts for
the EoL treatment of recyclable materials. As a result, a data-
driven and closed-loop material cycle will be accomplished. This
paper demonstrates that through self-executing smart contracts,
a clear line of responsibility and ownership could be defined
while manufacturers could be made accountable in the post-
consumer phase of their construction products.
Keywords: Extended Producer Responsibility; Circular
Economy; Recycle; Resource Efficiency; Construction and
Demolition Waste Management; Material Bank; Building
Information Modelling; Blockchain; Smart Contracts
In order to decarbonise the urban environment and meet the
goals of the Paris Agreement by 2050, as well as in accordance
with the Circular Economy Action Plan, the European Union
(EU) has set rigorous goals to move towards radical resource
efficiency and circular material flows. The construction
industry is one of the largest industries with vast material
flows, including raw and secondary materials, and
Construction and Demolition Wastes (CDW). About 9% of the
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the EU comes from the
construction industry that uses almost 50% of all extracted
materials as input. On the output side, CDW constitutes up to
30% of the EU waste stream, although EU member states have
various CDW recycling and material recovery strategies [1]
[3]. Proper management of CDW requires sustainable and
circular End-of-Lifecycle (EoL) treatment of construction
materials. To this end, several environmental policies and
metrics have been enacted, which emphasise on the role of the
EoL handling scenarios on the overall environmental impacts
of construction products.
The revised EN 15804 standard encourages the impacts of
the EoL phase of construction materials and products, and the
benefits of end-of-life recycling to be declared in the
Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). The EPD aims to
communicate the environmental and human impacts of a
product throughout its lifecycle. Moreover, the EPD makes the
comparison of construction products easy as it is based on the
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) results [4], [5].
Furthermore, after the launch of the "Single Market for
Green Products" initiative as a response to the "Resource
Efficient Europe" strategy, the European Commission
introduced the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF), which
has similar EoL allocation considerations as the EPD. At the
European level, the PEF aims to reduce the negative
environmental impacts of construction products as long as they
are in the supply chain. PEF is a voluntary product declaration,
which means that producers have to come forth honestly with
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their knowledge of their products' composition and
externalities [3]. There are significant efforts in the industry to
harmonise PEFs and EPDs, as well as to ensure the quality and
transparency of the LCA studies employed for these
sustainability performance schemes [6].
The two previously described schemes demand the EoL
phase's sustainable impacts to be considered along with other
lifecycle phases. However, the Extended Producer
Responsibility (EPR) policy directly targets the EoL
management of the materials. The EPR is one of the pillars of
the circular economy and aims to tackle the ever-increasing
waste generation issue. Moreover, its principle is advocated by
the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD). This principle makes manufacturers and importers of
products responsible for the environmental impacts of their
products throughout the whole lifecycle. According to the EPR,
producers are also responsible for financial and/or physical
treatment or disposal of post-consumer products in the EoL
phase. This includes the collecting, sorting and recycling of
materials [7]. The EPR was introduced in the 1980s to redefine
waste handling responsibilities and to shift the burden of EoL
treatment from the governmental level to the producer level.
EPR can be achieved through regulatory, economic, or
information instruments as well as take-back systems. The EPR
encourages designers to consider the EoL scenarios in the
inception of a project in order to prevent waste production at
the source as well as to contribute to structured waste
management at the end. EPR also promotes Design for
Environment (DfE), which includes a range of environmental
impact reduction strategies. The EPR policy is also known by
other names, including "polluter pays principle (PPP),"
"product stewardship," "product take-back," or "producers'
pay" [8]. Many producers collaborate through Producer
Responsibility Organisations (PROs), where they all pay the
fees to a waste management company to handle collecting and
recycling of products [7]. Producers seek to recover these costs
by integrating them into the purchase price of the products.
One can say that it is in fact the users of the products who pay
for EoL handling in the end [8]. Currently, the EPR is actively
fulfilled for the product categories of tyres, batteries, end-of-
life vehicles, and waste of electrical and electronic equipment
(WEEE or e-waste). However, buildings are i) extremely long-
term assets and ii) extremely complicated assets with multiple
owners and producers. Thus, it is challenging to execute and
monitor the EPR policy in the building sector. However,
through the use of digital technologies, we would like to offer a
new conceptual model on how it could be possible to apply the
EPR to the EoL of recyclable construction materials despite
previous implementation hardships.
The above policies have been introduced to regulate the
EoL phase and encourage resource efficiency in the current
construction material market. However, a shortcoming is in the
willingness, or even capability, of the current market to
consider the EoL of the materials in an unknown future. Secure
and tamper-proof lifecycle information and forward-looking
EoL guidelines are necessary to fulfil the EPR and to make
sure that the recycling responsibility will be supported by the
policies and incentives, and acted upon by the manufacturer at
the right time. Furthermore, having accurate data about the
amount of CDW, recyclables, or reusable materials in the
economy will create a regulated and reliable market. Previous
studies delineated that knowing the exact type and amount of
materials and scraps in the supply chain affects the scrap prices
due to full transparency in the supply and demand, which could
indirectly influence the recycling policies [9]. As a result, this
will improve the environmental and economic indicators,
which would then lead to accurate, forward-looking decisions
for our society.
In this section, we introduce some important concepts
necessary for our framework proposal. In the first subsection,
we review Building Information Modelling (BIM), followed by
Materials and Components Bank (M/C Bank), blockchain
technology as well as smart contracts.
A. Building Information Modelling (BIM)
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a methodology to
create a 3D, digital representation of a building in which all of
the building information is stored, managed and
communicated. This digital model, also known as BIM or
BIModel, is employed throughout the building lifecycle, from
the pre-construction phase to the construction, maintenance,
and deconstruction phases [10]. BIM offers many benefits,
including the automation of repetitive tasks that would lead to
fewer mistakes in the construction processes. The digitalisation
of construction information through BIM creates a gateway for
the construction industry to be linked with other digital
technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of
Things (IoT), and blockchain. A BIModel acts as a data lake
since it can accumulate the building information and deliver a
structured data output to all stakeholders, which makes it a
perfect link between the different technologies available.
Although BIM manages and stores the data, it does not
authenticate the data. However, data authenticity and integrity
is possible through the synergy of BIM and blockchain
technology. This synergy offers a secure way for data
ownership and tracking [11]. A number of existing studies in
the literature have examined the integration of BIM and
blockchain networks, which led to several proposed models.
This includes the studies from [12][14]. Their works and this
paper make use of BIM to securely store information in a
blockchain network.
B. Materials and Components Bank (M/C Bank)
The circular economy aims to close the material loop by
keeping the materials in the economic value chain as long as
possible without generating unnecessary waste. The concept of
the M/C Bank was proposed by [15] to realise this zero-waste
objective in the Architecture, Engineering, Construction,
Owner and Operator (AECOO) industry. Rather than
demolishing the building at the end of the lifecycle and
landfilling the materials, the building can be deconstructed in
such a way that building parts are further reused if they
successfully pass the M/C Bank's structural, environmental and
chemical performance assessment. In this case, the reusable
materials should be prepared for reuse before their
reintroduction to the supply chain [16]. Otherwise, they will be
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sent for recycling. M/C Bank is, in fact, a connection between
the EoL phase and the new construction phase, as shown in
Fig. 1. Deconstruction is the activity that is carried out in the
EoL phase, which is followed by either Design for
Deconstruction (DfD) for a new building or by design with
reusable materials. A combination of these two design
approaches is also possible [17]. While a physical M/C Bank
can be anticipated for testing or storage purposes, the emphasis
of this paper is on the digital M/C Bank, which stores all the
lifecycle information of building components. The digital M/C
Bank is connected with BIModels to exchange the lifecycle
information [18]; material passports and EPDs can also be
linked to both BIM and M/C Bank.
C. Blockchain Technology
Blockchain technology uses a decentralised database
contrary to the regular central databases. Blockchain
technology is a particular case of the Distributed Ledger
Technology (DLT), owing to the fact that it was born as a
response to having secure digital financial transactions without
a need for a central, trusted intermediary. Ledgers are trustable
and systematic record-keeping tools in which not only financial
entries but also ownership, status, authority and identity are
registered [19]. The security of blockchain stems from three
underlying cryptographic features: the blockchain protocol,
private key encryption and the peer-to-peer network (i.e. P2P).
These features ensure secure storage and transfer of any type of
transaction on the nodes and within the blockchain network,
respectively. A consensus mechanism is defined for the
blockchain network, based on which a set of recorded
transactions are validated, hashed and added to the chain after
all the nodes (i.e. peers) accept the transactions. Thus, the
transactions are distributed between nodes, and although users
have similar rights within the blockchain, each would only see
a part of the ledger. Fig. 2 illustrates how blocks of transactions
are created, verified and added to a blockchain network. The
consensus mechanism is an essential part of the blockchain
technology as it eliminates the need for trustable intermediaries
to validate the authenticity of the data.
Currently, blockchain technology is in constant
development through fusion with different sectors, e.g., supply
chain, logistics, health care. It is a relatively new technology
and its future growth highly depends on its synergy with other
technologies. Similarly, the potential of blockchain can be
discovered through the integration of blockchain with other
industries to create new conceptual models and use cases.
The implementation of blockchain technology in the
construction sector has some limitations. For one, the industry
is not tech-savvy, nor does it have proper digital foundations
for smooth integration with blockchain. The construction
industry is still in the transition to BIM, for which a great deal
of time and money is spent by companies, either directed
towards software purchases or training.
D. Smart Contracts
The focus of blockchain technology shifted from financial
value transactions to other types of value as it progressed over
time. In a business case, there may be other vital conditions
aside from the monetary value when executing a transaction.
For instance, a transaction may involve specific rules, policies,
laws, and regulations. For allowing these other real-world
constraints to be realised on a blockchain, smart contracts add a
layer of computation logic to the network. Therefore, through
the smart contract, a wide variety of decentralised applications
and innovative features can be implemented on the blockchain.
Smart contracts are a set of coded protocols registered in a
blockchain that is automatically executed by the computer once
the contract triggers are set off. An example of a smart contract
is shown in Fig. 3. They self-execute the actions that are
anticipated for conditions, which verified parties have agreed
upon. Similar to other transactions in a blockchain network,
once the smart contract is executed, it is deployed and invoked
on the network before it is validated by users through a
consensus process. The elimination of human bias in contract
employment increases the trust and fairness between
One of the common aims of the EU-wide directives and
initiatives is to divert CDW and valuable recyclable materials
from landfills, to turn waste into resources and to reduce raw
material extraction [20], [21]. Recycling is one of the crucial
cycles in materials' lifecycle in order to revalorise the materials
and to re-inject them back into the economy. One of the
Fig. 1 The interaction of BIModels and the M/C Bank for circulation of
materials' information during EoL and new design stages
Fig. 2 The mechanism of blockchain
Fig. 3 The mechanism of Smart Contracts in a blockchain network
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policies that directly addresses this issue is EPR. However, the
EPR policy is not followed up in the post-consumer phase of
buildings, i.e. the deconstruction phase, due to difficulties
regarding the lifecycle and EoL information tracking of the
plethora of materials that exist in every single building. This
has caused many valuable materials to end up in landfills or to
be poorly recycled. Furthermore, the lack of clear information
about the whereabouts of the discarded materials has resulted
in a grey area in terms of the unknown physical volume as well
as the financial value of the existing CDW. Thus, the objective
of the proposed framework here is to revalorise the recyclable
construction materials and to define clear lines of responsibility
regarding the waste management and EoL handling throughout
the lifecycle of a construction product with a particular focus
on EoL information. To this end, a smart EoL handling system
with a take-back mechanism is conceptualised in this paper to
tackle the EoL problems. This conceptual model makes the
EPR implementation and monitoring within the building sector
possible by using blockchain technology and smart contracts in
connection with both M/C Bank and BIM technology.
The expected service life of a building can go up to 50
years. In many cases, buildings are in the operation phase long
after the designated service life. Information loss, decay and
tampering as well as digital obsolescence threaten the integrity
and authenticity of the lifecycle information due to this lengthy
time perspective. It is imperative for any long-term lifecycle
information management strategy to consider a secure database
to protect the data against the above threats. In addition, to
encourage construction material manufacturers to take up the
EoL responsibility of their products, they need a trustable
information loop regarding the EoL data of their products. A
secure way to keep the lifecycle information over the long time
frame described is to utilise the capabilities of blockchain to
track items throughout the supply chain. Hence, the conceptual
model in this paper benefits from smart contracts that run on
the blockchain network to automatically execute a set of
predefined actions when the building is decommissioned.
So far, EPR and material construction take-back systems
have not been implemented in the building sector for several
reasons. Firstly, it is not easy nor is it common practice for
construction material manufacturers to keep consistent and
future-proof records of the whereabouts of their sold inventory
for about a century, if not more. It is not easy for producers to
keep in touch with all their previous clients in order to fulfil
their extended producer responsibilities. Secondly, contrary to
other EPR categories, e.g., vehicles or batteries, a construction
material producer usually sells the materials to a construction
contractor, not the final building owner/user. Ownership issues
add a layer of complexity to a take-back system, especially if
EPR-based financial deposit-refund instruments are also in
place. While the initial contractor might not be in the
deconstruction scene in a future scenario, the third issue is
related to producers who are no longer active. If they are not in
business anymore, how can they fulfil their EoL responsibility,
or who should shoulder this burden instead of them? A
highlighted issue in the EPR policy is the existence of "orphan
products." These are products that are left orphaned as no party
takes the responsibility for their EoL handling, or other
producers have to take care of them [7]. These complexities
can be overcome by systematically using smart contracts and
updating ownerships, EoL responsibilities or claims. A smart
contract-based system can organise an accountability system
where producers and contractors can settle on their EoL
responsibility share before exiting the business value chain and
leaving orphan goods behind. This will increase the market's
positive competitiveness as a result of minimising the free-rider
problem, where the burden of recycling is not only on the
ecologically responsible companies. Fig. 4 illustrates the
mechanism of the proposed conceptual framework. It
demonstrates different smart contract triggers and follow-up
The EoL phase begins when the product is disassembled
from the building until the last step of its proper treatment.
Hence, both the M/C Bank and the producers will handle the
EoL treatment responsibility. Initially, when a building is
deconstructed, materials and components are sent to the M/C
Bank for reusability assessment. Upon arrival of the materials
at the M/C Bank, a smart contract is automatically executed to
notify the original material/product producer that their product
is no longer nested in a building but in the custody of the M/C
Bank for assessment. Based on the assessment report, the
materials are either suitable for further reuse or recycling. If the
product is reusable, a smart contract notifies the producer that
their product is still in the supply chain and will be used further
(path number 1 in Fig. 4). This entails a series of updates in the
smart contracts to prepare them for a future take-back scenario
in the next lifecycle of products. Otherwise, if the material is to
be recycled, another clause of a smart contract will be
triggered, which notifies the producer about this judgement as
well as their duty regarding the EoL treatment of their
products. However, as mentioned earlier, the manufacturer
might not be in the business by the time the building is being
Fig. 4 Proposed conceptual framework for end-of-life recycling of
construction materials
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deconstructed. Thus, a smart contract clause is activated to
enquire whether the producer is in operation after the service
life is over and if they are able to fulfil their extended
responsibilities (path number 2 in Fig. 4). Nevertheless, even if
producers are still operational, they are free to choose if they
will accept the EoL responsibility (path number 3 in Fig. 4). If
not, they should make arrangements with the M/C Banks, other
producers, or PROs to update the smart contracts before the
time of the deconstruction. Also, the M/C Bank can start a
bidding process to find a suitable recycling contractor. These
provisions ensure that the framework is inclusive and has few
entry barriers. Even if the producers have no means to fulfil
their extended EoL responsibility personally, they can
contribute to the system by making prior arrangements and/or
sharing the important EoL guidelines regarding their products.
In such cases, an integration of this conceptual model with e-
marketplaces is also feasible. Blockchain-based e-marketplaces
are new research hotspots [22]. There could be cases where a
material or component can be upcycled and reused in another
context without significant performance modifications.
Therefore, this is an excellent opportunity for cross-industry
collaboration for creating new inner cycles in the material loop
whilst generating new use cases and business revenues. In fact,
the new European Green Deal encourages cooperation across
value chains for having a strong and integrated single market
for secondary raw materials and by-products [23].
In the ideal case where the producers are active and willing
to fulfil their responsibilities, the next smart contract clause
will be triggered to initiate the take-back mechanism and
deliver the recyclables back to the producers (path number 4 in
Fig. 4). They will recycle the materials and inject them back to
their business processes. In this mechanism, it is the
responsibility of the M/C Bank to administer the EoL
treatment. At the same time, the producers are responsible for
the financial and physical treatment of the materials, as stated
in the EPR policy.
Blockchain network provides an infrastructure for a smart,
non-discriminative, inclusive, trustable and agile EoL treatment
ecosystem, where the biases and errors are minimised since
smart contracts administrate the decisions and notifications.
Producers know that they can trust such a system for on time
and correct information. As everything is recorded in smart
contracts, producers are relieved from the burden of tracking
their products or verifying the lifecycle information and can
come to the EoL scene only when the materials are assessed to
be recycled. On top of that, as ownerships are already handled
through smart contracts, it would be easy for producers to
redeem their products without additional administrative or
legal issues. Saving all stakeholders from unnecessary
paperwork and claims will create efficiency in the whole
recycling and EoL treatment system.
In an ideal situation, as manufacturers know the exact
location and status of the materials, they can collaborate with
the M/C Bank for taking back and recycling the materials,
hence, fulfilling the EPR in the construction sector. However,
to avoid confusions and to regulate the interaction of different
parties, further smart contract clauses can be anticipated to i)
prevent the producers from claiming their product before the
EoL phase, as well as to ii) prevent users/clients from treating
materials carelessly since they are not responsible for the EoL
treatment. For example, at the end of the expected service life
of a building, a smart contract automatically sends messages to
the M/C Bank to enquire the status of the building; whether it
will be deconstructed or the owners will use it beyond the
expected lifecycle. In the latter case, the M/C Bank will
estimate a new expected service life and the smart contract will
be updated accordingly. Also, in case of an accident, e.g. fire, a
smart contract will automatically report the damages to
insurance companies and will update the manufacturers about
the incident. Following that, if the damages make dwelling
impossible in that particular building, it can be deconstructed
before the end of the expected service life. Thus, manufacturers
will receive automatic notifications to take back the recyclables
earlier than expected.
Finally, Fig. 5 shows a possible way on how BIM fits in
this conceptual framework and how it connects different
stakeholders. BIM is the only way to date to digitise the
building components in an integrated way that can later be
linked with other technologies. All of the lifecycle information
is intermittently updated and stored in a BIModel, which is
then linked to the M/C Bank. Thus, the M/C Bank must be a
partner in the smart contracts, while other partners in these
should be the producers and consumers (building contractors
and users). This is beyond the scope of this paper to go over the
complex issue of who really should be considered as the
consumer, building contractors or end-users. Nevertheless,
there could be other possible ways to integrate BIModels and
smart contracts which will need to be further investigated.
The proposed conceptual model offers quite a few benefits
due to the synergy of the involved digital technologies.
Essential lifecycle information that is required for the M/C
Bank's assessment is securely kept, no more information loss or
decay. Due to all the technologies involved, the paperwork
involved is considered as low, especially when it comes to
tracking the EoL responsibility and implementing EPR in the
construction sector. This leads to the next benefit, which is the
automatic on-time messaging. Every party in the supply chain
will be notified about their EoL responsibilities and the status
of their products. As a consequence of this automation, the
need for a central authority to administer the take-back
notification is minimised. Also, there is no bias in informing
the right producer at the right time and deliver them the right
materials. Human errors are, thus, minimised, and the
efficiency of the whole EoL take-back system is increased. The
Fig. 5 Suggested integration of Smart Contracts with BIModels and M/C
Bank to update producers and consumers about the status of materials
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automatic tracking of lifecycle information and EoL handling
responsibilities eradicates the orphan goods issue that is
common in all industries.
With enough clarity about the material input and output, the
statistics about the CDW, recyclables, as well as reusable
materials will be more accurate. This accuracy would benefit
environmental metrics and indices, such as Net Additions to
Stock (NAS) [24]. NAS suffers from a lack of data about the
gross additions and removals from the physical stock of a
community, which are input and output building materials in
building stock.
The suggested framework is adaptive. It can be applied to
other industries that also suffer from a lack of transparency and
statistics in their supply chain or to those that need to regulate
the EoL of their products.
Realising a digital circular economy needs to start from
conceptual models where a combination of technologies are
directed to solve a circular issue. On that note, this framework
aims to use digital technologies to create a robust and trustable
take-back system for construction materials in order to recover
the value of recyclable materials. A financial blockchain-based
mechanism will be introduced in the next phase of this study to
create a win-win solution for the producers and consumers.
This solution adheres to the EPR financial instruments and
encourages more construction stakeholders to take back their
products at the EoL phase for recycling.
The present paper offers a digital circular economy solution
for the supply chain of recyclable materials in the construction
industry. The proposed conceptual model centres on a product
take-back system by defining clear lines of responsibility in the
EoL phase of buildings, which is also in line with the EPR
In the EoL phase of facilities and after the deconstruction,
materials are sent to the M/C Bank for performance
assessment. Whether suitable for further reuse in a second
lifecycle or suitable for recycling, the producers of the
materials will be automatically notified by smart contracts
about this step and the assessment outcome. For recyclable
materials, further smart contract clauses will be activated that
enable producers to take back their materials or components.
Through this smart-contact-based system, producers will be
accountable for the EoL handling of their products. This
mechanism would enable the implementation of the EPR
policy in the construction sector, which is not the case at the
moment. Hence, "construction" producers would be made
responsible for the treatment of their products and materials at
the end of their lifecycle.
One reason why EPR has not been implemented in the
construction sector is the long service life of buildings, as they
can be used for, e.g., 50 years or more. Moreover, the
complexity and the multitude of materials in a building makes
EPR implementation improbable due to the extreme amount of
paperwork for tracking lifecycle status and ownership
responsibilities. By using a combination of digital technologies,
including BIM and blockchain, we believe that we can
overcome the above challenges.
Knowing the exact type and amount of materials in the
supply chain, either raw or secondary, will affect scrap prices
because of full transparency in supply and demand. This
transparency will benefit the environmental metrics to draw an
accurate picture of the existing CDW or materials in the
Furthermore, by using blockchain networks, the
information will be immutably and securely stored and
protected against digital attacks or decays. Consequently,
human errors will be reduced, and the efficiency and accuracy
of the system will be increased. The novelty of this framework
is in the deployment of smart contracts and decentralised
blockchain network to ensure the long-term security of data as
well as to make it easy to create financial incentives on top of
take-back mechanism for producers, manufacturers and
consumers. Having a monetary incentive attracts more
AECOO stakeholders to participate in planning for a future
EoL. With blockchain, it is possible to create financial value
for the materials in the EoL phase for the mutual benefit of all
society members, while increasing the sustainability and
circularity of the construction sector.
A future direction for this framework is to investigate what
type of blockchain network would be suitable for such a use
case. Another direction to follow in future is to work on the
practical integration of BIM and Smart Contracts.
Overall, in this paper, we showed how blockchain
technology can be used in synergy with BIM technology to
create secure and automatic lifecycle information exchanges
between AECOO actors who join the M/C Bank schema.
Subsequently, the proposed model paves the way for
monitoring and fulfilling the extended responsibility of
construction material producers as outlined by the EPR policy.
This research was carried out as part of the Eco-
Construction for Sustainable Development (ECON4SD)
project that is supported by the Investissement pour la
Croissance et l'emploiEuropean Regional Development Fund
(20142020), with the grant agreement 2017-02-015-15.
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WCST ISBN: 978-1-913572-25-9
WCICSS ISBN: 978-1-913572-26-6
... Specifically, BCT can clarify waste ownership responsibilities and form a trust-free supervision mechanism. Also, smart contracts based on the ability to define clear responsibilities and ownership can guide producers to fulfil their responsibilities (Akbarieh et al. 2020). ...
More practitioners are embracing blockchain technology to improve recycling performance. However , current research on the use of blockchain is mostly confined to general discussions on sustainable supply chains and circular economy, with limited studies specifically focusing on the recycling chain. This paper conducts a thorough content-based review of the literature related to the application of blockchain technology in the recycling chain with the objective to identify a conceptual framework. Although descriptive and thematic analyses show limited developments, blockchain technology can offer four distinct functions in the recycling chain: transparency, integration , behaviour channelisation, and service transformation. The adoption of blockchain in this area has technical, organisational, and environmental limitations that have not been overcome yet. In terms of benefits, blockchain technology improves recycling performance in terms of cost, dependability , flexibility, sustainability, and risk reduction. To summarise the findings, the paper proposes a novel conceptual framework for blockchain implementations in the recycling chain to support practitioners and guide scholars in further blockchain technology exploration. ARTICLE HISTORY
... The complexity of construction project leads to the difficulty in tracking the status of materials' lifecycles and the responsibilities of stakeholders [48]. In CWM, the exact type, amount, and quality of materials affect the price of materials in the supply chain [100,101]. Thus, the integration of blockchain with CIM alleviates the quality problems, which improves trust between stakeholders [30,81]. Furthermore, blockchain provides the long-term security and traceability of data while creating financial incentives of reward mechanisms which incentivizes stakeholders to be engaged in enhancing CWM process, including waste recycling. ...
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... Blockchain technology use could support such measures by providing permanent, immutable ledgers onto which to record such information. Similarly, extended producer responsibility, a legal concept in which responsibilities for waste management are shifted from consumers and authorities to the producer of the product identified as part of an integrated regulatory approach for circular economies (Steenmans 2019), could also benefit from having data on product producers and holders on a virtual distributed ledger (Akbarieh et al. 2020;Sandhiya and Ramakrishna 2020). ...
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Blockchain technology is emerging as a plausible disruptor of waste management practices that influence the governance of plastics. The interest in the waste management community in the po-tential and fundamental changes to complex resource management associated with blockchain adoption parallels recent adoption research in other sectors, such as finance, health, public ad-ministration, etc. During any comparable period characterized by a step-change in positive cov-erage of an early-stage technology, it can be challenging for actors to access a grounded, evi-dence-based oversight of the current state of practice, and make informed decisions about wheth-er or how to adopt blockchain technology. The current absence of such a systematic overview of recent experiences with blockchain initiatives disrupting waste practices not only limits the visi-bility of these experimental efforts, but also limits the learning that can be shared across waste plastics researcher and practitioner communities. This paper contributes to this challenge with a current overview of blockchain technology adoption in the waste management sector, giving par-ticular attention to implications for the governance of plastics. This study draws on both primary interview data and secondary documentation data to map the landscape of current blockchain initiatives in the global waste sector. It identifies four areas of blockchain use that are beginning to change waste management practices (payment, recycling and reuse rewards, monitoring and tracking of waste, and smart contracts). It finishes by outlining five areas of significant block-chain uses, implications, and influences of relevance to the development of circular plastics waste governance in both research and practice.
... Copeland and Bilec [72] propose a framework to integrate geospatial mapping, BIM and blockchain for the concept of buildings as material banks (BAMB) that stores RFID data on a blockchain with regards location of materials throughout the asset's lifecycle to allow the circular economy. Akbarieh et al. [73] develop a framework to revalorise building materials at end-of-life based on the concept of BAMB. Blockchain secures the information of tracked materials; smart contracts update ownership of materials, end-of-life responsibilities and material claims whilst also offering a system of accountability pushing contractors and suppliers to consider end-of-life responsibilities during the design phase. ...
The contribution of distributed ledger technology (DLT) (e.g. blockchain) and smart contracts to the digital-isation and digital transformation of the construction sector is nascent but rapidly gaining traction. ‘Systematic reviews’ of DLT and smart contract applications that are specific to the construction sector are missing. This paper performs an extensive systematic review of 153 DLT and smart contract papers specific to the design, construction and operation of built assets. The protocols and processes of a systematic review were adopted to ensure full transparency, accountability, reproducibility, and updateability of the results. Through thematic analysis, we identify eight distinct themes of applications for DLT and smart contracts in construction: information management, payments, procurement, supply chain management, regulations and compliance, construction management and delivery, dispute resolution, and technological systems. Each theme identified was analysed to understand current capabilities, applications, and future developments. A cross- themes discussion revealed that DLT and smart contracts are ‘supplementary’ technologies that are used in combination with other technologies (e.g. BIM, IoT, cloud computing) as part of ‘technological systems’ that need to co-evolve in order to enable the themes’ applications identified. Research into DLT and smart contracts in construction is rapidly moving from theoretical insights and frameworks into developing proofs-of-concept studies (27 studies) and testing them in case studies (20 studies). The next stage of research involving wider academic communities and industry-wide engagement is expected to begin uncovering the anticipated benefits of DLT and smart contracts through investments into technological systems and testing in real-world pilot studies. The discussion of the themes identified from technology, policy, process, and society perspectives exposed the need for an extended socio-technical approach to the solution in order to deliver the necessary change and impact from the adoption of DLT and smart contracts at speed and scale. The results of this systematic review provide a noteworthy reference point for academics, practitioners and policy makers interested in the future development of DLT and smart contract applications in construction.
... Although Xue and Lu (2020) argue that the integration of blockchain with BIM is no longer debatable, Hamledari and Fischer (2021), Adamska et al. (2021), and Liu et al. (2021) mention that it is yet to be widely documented in academic literature. Most of the existing academic studies have examined blockchain integration with BIM to point out the drivers and barriers of this integration (Hijazi et al. 2019b;Li et al. 2019;Liu et al. 2021;Nawari and Ravindran 2019;Penzes 2018;Perera et al. 2020) or proposed model to explain how this integration could happen; Dounas et al. (2021) proposed a conceptual model for BIM design solution with blockchain; Xue and Lu (2020) proposed a conceptual model for minimizing information redundancy of BIM using blockchain; Akbarieh et al. (2020) proposed a conceptual model for recycling of construction materials through the integration of blockchain with BIM; Khan et al. (2020) proposed a conceptual model for safety planning in BIM; and Elghaish et al. (2020) proposed the integration of 5D BIM with Blockchain for an automated financial system. The existing academic literature mainly focused on bottom-up design solutions with a gap in analyzing and systematically documenting the top-down existing parameters to state the purpose of this integration and provide a clear rationale. ...
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The construction industry consumes an enormous amount of global resources and produces more waste than any other sector. The need to move toward sustainable development in construction requires significant changes in construction and demolition (C&D) waste management. The estimation of waste, recycling materials and reusable components could be vital in waste management, achieving huge efficiency in the construction industry. Moreover, a typical building comprises of an extensive amount of materials and components with various characteristics. This study proposes a Building Information Modelling (BIM)-based system to allow the circular economy by storing information of the materials and components of buildings and by effectively managing the recycling of materials and reuse of components. A tool which serves as a Material and Component (M&C) bank was developed with PHP and MYSQL by making use of a web browser able to extract the materials and component information of a building through the BIM model. This information is vital for several uses such as quantification of C&D waste and assessing for the design for deconstruction. It can also be used to obtain the information of the reusable condition of the components and instructions for the reconstruction.
Conference Paper
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In the construction industry, where there is a complex structure and fragmented supply chain, Building Information Modelling (BIM) has played a key role in enabling integrated practice as a vital collaborative information model. However, construction supply chain (CSC) data are mostly stored in a BIM model by one actor and that could lead to dispute among CSC's stakeholders, whereas the process involves tens of subcontractors , suppliers, and manufacturers. Thus, introducing new mechanisms to facilitate trust will enhance collaboration between the CSC's stakeholder to agree one single source of truth (SSoT). Thus, it is argued that, the integration of BIM and blockchain has the potential to respond to some of the issues discouraging the industry to use BIM as SSoT. Blockchain is a technology used in cases where stakeholders do not necessarily trust each other. This technology has the potential to reduce the "trust gap" by making data transactions independently verifiable among project stakeholders through robust cryptographic mechanisms. This paper discusses the potentials and limitations of integrating blockchain with BIM to enable a SSoT for construction projects through a structured review of previous studies. Blockchain has the potential to enhance the efficiency of compliance processes for BIM model by enabling the auditability and its transparency during CSC. Blockchain will add another dimension to what is possible when combined with BIM data for digital twin by enabling data integrity, reliability, and traceability. Compliance to regulatory requirements, and the complex system of blockchain technology to integrate with legacy enterprise system are the main barriers to motivate the CSC's stakeholders to integrate blockchain with BIM. A proposed architecture for integration of blockchain with BIM is introduced in this paper. The findings provide the foundation for developing a methodology for integrating blockchain with BIM for further detailed empirical research.
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This paper presents an implementation of smart contracts by integrating BIM and blockchain. After briefly reviewing the literature regarding blockchain technology, smart contracts, and integration of the BIM and blockchain, a blockchain network using Hyperledger fabric is proposed and tested to govern a sample construction project. The proposed framework does not utilize the cryptocurrency aspect of the blockchain as the payment form. Instead, it discusses the integration of the current banking system and the use of fiat currencies in transactions. The results show that blockchain is a viable system for governing construction project contracts by automating the consequences of each transaction and maintaining a tamper proof record of project progress, which would be valuable in any kind of dispute resolution. The blockchain network developed in this study implements the smart contract as its network operation logic. As a result, the notion of having to translate all the traditional contract clauses to the computer program is shown to be unnecessary and to some extent not suitable for construction, due to the complexity, fluidity, and high uncertainties involved in each project.
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This paper concerns the reusable components and recycled materials from demounted structures which may draw a large amount of waste in construction industry. By a series of literature review and analyses, a material and component bank was proposed to manage more effectively the recycling of materials and direct reuse of components even of whole components obtained from old structures to facilitate a more sustainable construction industry. The concept, main businesses, and work operation of the bank were illustrated in detail including its potential management method and supply chain. The relationship between the bank and current building information modeling, design for deconstruction, supply chain, and life cycle assessment based on the bank were then analyzed in detail. It can be concluded that the bank could pave the way for effectively performing a further and repaid reuse of components and perfecting current recycling of materials to contribute a more sustainable built environment from the view of various terms mentioned in this study. The bank also can link with current method of life cycle assessment or environmental impact assessment well, which all can promote the construction sustainability indicating the bank can be integrated into current construction industry easily for the future. Graphic abstract Open image in new window
Conference Paper
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In the digital Economy 'Data is the new oil. In the last decade technology has disrupted every filed imaginable. One such booming technology is Blockchain. A blockchain is essentially a distributed database of records or public ledger of all transactions or digital events that have been executed and shared among participating parties. And once entered, the information is immutable. Ongoing projects and prior work in the fields of big data, data mining and data science has revealed how relevant data can be used to enhance products and services. There are uncountable applications and advantages of relevant data. The most valuable companies of today treat data as a commodity, which they trade and earn revenues. But use of relevant data has also drawn attention by the other non-conventional organizations and domains. To facilitate such trading, data marketplaces have emerged. In this paper we present a global data marketplace for users to easily buy and share data. The main focus of this research is to have a central data sharing platform for the recycling industry. This paper is a part of the research project "Recycling 4.0" which is focusing on sustainably improving the recycling process through exchange of information. We identify providing secure platform, data integrity and data quality as some major challenges for a data marketplace. In this paper we also explore how global data marketplace could be implemented using blockchain and similar technologies.
***** Link to download this paper (free until March 21st 2020 ): | After 21st March 2020: ***** | The environmental performance of construction products and assemblies is a determinant factor for the environmental sustainability of buildings. Increasing willingness of stakeholders in the construction sector for green procurement, better-informed decisions and consideration of environmental aspects increase the need of transparent, objective and independent information on the environmental performance of construction products. Environmental product declarations (EPD) based on the European standard EN 15804 are used in the construction sector since 2012. In parallel, since 2011, the European Commission (EC) has developed a common method for the assessment of the environmental performance of products: the Product Environmental Footprint (PEF). After a pilot phase, the PEF method has evolved, and some updates were published in early 2019. The EN 15804 standard has also been revised, and therefore it is the ideal time to seek the harmonization of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methods. This paper presents a pioneer study applied to the construction sector that focus on the comparison between the PEF method (2019 updated) and the EPDs developed according to the Core rules for the product category of construction products presented in EN 15804 (EN 15804:2012+A1:2013, recently updated by EN 15804:2012+A1:2013 +A2:2019). The comparison was performed by listing and analysing key requirements of both methods and their updates. From the results, it was possible to conclude that the methods have very distinct requirements that make the comparison of results or the alternate use of PEFs and EPDs impossible, for instance, in the decision-making process. This highlights the need of harmonisation and therefore the discussion includes the presentation of a roadmap to update the PEF method and the EN 15804 standard so that results can be more coherent and comparable.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) offers a novel approach to design, construction, and facility management in which a digital representation of the building product and process is used to facilitate the exchange and interoperability of information in digital format. BIM is beginning to change the way buildings look, the way they function, and the ways in which they are designed and built. The BIM Handbook, Third Edition provides an in-depth understanding of BIM technologies, the business and organizational issues associated with its implementation, and the profound advantages that effective use of BIM can provide to all members of a project team. Updates to this edition include: • Information on the ways in which professionals should use BIM to gain maximum value • New topics such as collaborative working, national and major construction clients, BIM standards and guides • A discussion on how various professional roles have expanded through the widespread use and the new avenues of BIM practices and services • A wealth of new case studies that clearly illustrate exactly how BIM is applied in a wide variety of conditions Painting a colorful and thorough picture of the state of the art in building information modeling, the BIM Handbook, Third Edition guides readers to successful implementations, helping them to avoid needless frustration and costs and take full advantage of this paradigm-shifting approach to construct better buildings that consume fewer materials and require less time, labor, and capital resources.