How Can Digital Technologies Support the Circular Transition of Social Housing Organizations? Empirical Evidence from Two Cases

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Abstract

The world is facing an alarming housing crisis. The challenge for the construction industry is to find sustainable ways to meet this growing housing demand. The concept of Circular Economy could be an alternative approach as it aims to regenerate, narrow, slow, and close resources loops. Digital technologies are seen as enablers to implementing these looping strategies through their capabilities for managing information and supporting collaboration and new business model creation. In the built environment, many digital innovations have emerged that support the circular transition of the industry at various spatial scales. However, these innovations mainly focus on nano, micro, and macro scales and lack perspectives on the meso level (real estate portfolio). This research aims to understand how digital technologies can support circular strategies at the meso level by collecting empirical evidence from the European social housing organizations actively experimenting with circular strategies. We conducted a multiple-case study method and chose two cases from the UK and Belgium. We collected data through desk research and online group interviews. Our results indicate that housing organizations adopt a wide range of circular strategies for managing their housing portfolio. The support of digital technologies to perform the circularity is low. Our findings suggest five potentially enabling digital technologies at the meso level supporting the housing sector towards circularity: circular asset management tools, digital building logbooks, material passports, BIM, and collaboration tools.