The Relation of Circularity to Sustainability

The Relation of Circularity to Sustainability  

In this video, Professor Andy van den Dobbelsteen sets out to clarify the relation of circularity to sustainability and how it can help materialize sustainability goals.

Main Takeaways

  • Sustainability refers to something that can be continued without obstacles or limitations.
  • Ecological sustainability is related to essential flows: energy, water, materials, and nutrients. Here lies the relation of sustainability to circularity:  in the closing or continuation of cycles of resources. 
  • Circular systems are either finite, metal, mineral and plastic materials used infinitely through reuse, repair, repurposing, remanufacturing or recycling, or bio-based material from biological origin, which should be grown and maintained in a sustainable manner, so that they are replenished in a natural way. Plant-based materials generally cost less energy to produce, and they bind carbon during growth.
  • Circularity can take many forms like urban mining; products as a service systems; and the adaptive reuse of the existing building stock through transformative renovation.


Andy van den Dobbelsteen
Andy van den Dobbelsteen

Prof. Dr. Ir. Andy van den Dobbelsteen is full professor of Climate Design & Sustainability and Sustainability Coordinator of TU Delft. In that latter function he was awarded CSR Manager of the Year in 2023. Earlier, he was knighted for his work and received the KIVI Academic Society Award for the way he communicates in the media. At TU Delft, Andy teaches students how to design sustainable buildings and cities. He was ‘faculty advisor’ to three successful TU Delft Solar Decathlon teams and is responsible for the online course Zero-Energy Design, winner of the edX Online Prize 2020. His short film Energy Slaves, about energy use in Dutch households, won a Dutch ‘Oscar’ for commissioned films. Together with his team, Andy has conducted many national and international research projects around energy transition, climate adaptation, circularity and other sustainability themes. He has sat on many boards, committees and juries. Andy delivers lectures, nationally and internationally, and he publishes a lot. In his private time, he writes thrillers… 

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Circularity for Educators

The platform is intended to provide with content on either circularity or pedagogy for and about circularity. It is one of the outcomes of the Circular Impulse Initiative (CII), a project intending to enhance the integration of circularity in the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment education. The platform mainly aims to help tutors get better acquainted with circularity in the built environment by providing a series of resources on this subject that they can either view to get better informed or directly share with their students in class or online. A large number of the Faculty's professors and researchers have contributed substantially both in creating a coherent narrative for circularity in the built environment as well as further elaborating on different aspects of it. Besides this one, a new platform for interaction and direct exchange was also established in parallel that we call ‘Educators for Circularity‘. This one offers the opportunity for all of us to meet and share our experiences and learn from one another.

Visit Educators for Circularity