Modes of Governance to Accelerate the Transition Towards a Circular Construction Sector: A Critical Assessment
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The built environment has a negative impact on the natural environment. Circular economy (CE) is seen as a promising approach to reduce this environmental impact, as it facilitates the achievement of sustainable material streams. However, most CE research tends to focus on either a micro-scale (e.g., products) or a macro-scale approach (e.g., the national government). A few researchers have studied the realisation of circular buildings, although they generally neglect the processes that are required to facilitate and accelerate the transition towards CE. Therefore, this study aims to provide an advanced understanding of how the Dutch governance can successfully facilitate the transition towards a circular construction sector in the Netherlands. First, a conceptual model is developed to study the influence of governance modes on the transition towards circularity. To create this model, we used theoretical building blocks for circular building principles, the Triple Embeddedness Framework (TEF), as well as environmental governance from literature. Second, an analysis is presented in which the framework is applied to the Dutch government, using unstructured interviews and desk research. Based on the theoretical- and analytical frameworks, recommendations are provided to accelerate the demanded transition within the construction sector in the Netherlands. Namely, we found that for the realization of a circular construction sector in the Netherlands, i) the powerbase should be enlarged, ii) frontrunners and circular experts of the construction sector should be consulted in formulating policy, iii) a clear definition of circular construction is required to formulate and execute policy, iv) a method to calculate circularity performance should be developed, which includes the environmental impact of the entire life cycle of a building, disassembly and adaptively of buildings and CO2 storage, v) development of knowledge and experience should be broadened through pilots, iv) government buildings should be used to set an example, and vi) a different taxation system with a higher taxation rate on materials and less taxation on labour activities should be implemented. Altogether, in case the government performs the recommended actions, the construction sector is expected to shift from a linear to a circular system.