A BIM-based framework to integrate a sustainable end-of-life into the asset lifecycle
: towards the circular economy

  • Rabia Charef

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The construction industry is infamous for having a tremendous negative impact on the natural environment. This includes its excess contribution of construction/demolition waste to landfill and its massive consumption of raw materials causing resource depletion. These factors contribute to the degradation of the natural environment. The linear economic system, where resources are extracted, used and disposed of, will not be able to prevent the depletion of natural resources and the saturation
of landfills. The construction industry must make a radical change by adopting the Circular Economy approach and managing the End-of-Life (EOL) of buildings more sustainably to close the material loop and reduce dependence on natural resource extraction.

Deconstruction or disassembly seems to be the most appropriate strategy for properly salvaging materials to be able to reuse or recycle them. This leads to designing the buildings with the additional objective of deconstructing them. However, the current most frequent definition of the asset life cycle goes from inception to in-use phases, including refurbishment, thereby leaving disposal as the main end of life option. This study aims to develop a BIM-based framework for integrating the sustainable
End-of-Life phase into the asset lifecycle in the Circular Economy context.

A mixed-method was adopted for the research using several techniques (literature reviews, systematic review, survey questionnaire, Pre-Interview Questionnaire and semi-structured interviews with stakeholders involved during the asset lifecycle from France and the UK (20 interviewees, experts in SEOL and/or BIM). A descriptive statistical analysis and means comparison was performed for the questionnaire by using Statistical Package for the Social Science (SPSS) and Excel. The 20 interview analysis was performed by coding the transcripts through NVivo 12 software. Themes and concepts identified were based on the literature review findings. A BIM-based theoretical framework with
Sustainable End-of-Life (SEOL) was drawn up based on the literature findings and was presented to the interviewees for improvements leading, as a result, to the creation of the conceptual framework.

BIM uses were also identified from the interviews, discussed and compared with the existing BIM uses available in the literature. Structured like the “RIBA Plan of Work – Designing for Manufacture and Assembly", Guidelines for implementing the SEOL approach were summarized in a table mentioning recommendations for each stage. The key research findings revealed that:

 There are several BIM dimensions having a different level of development. A consensus exists for 4D (planning) and 5D (costing), on what they refer to. However, there is a discrepancy between academics and practitioners for the 6D and 7D. More than 85% of practitioners allocated sustainability to 6D and Facility Management to 7D. No dimension is allocated to the EOL activities.
 Extending BIM to include EOL could help to move from the Linear economy to Circular Economy  The design stage is a key phase where all the stakeholders, in the asset lifecycle, must be involved.
 The interviewees raised six categories of barriers: (1) economic barriers, (2) political barriers, (3) sociological barriers, (4) technical barriers, (5) Environmental barriers and (6) organizational barriers.
 BIM has the potential to help the management of EOL sustainability: Eight new BIM Uses were identified that can be added to eight other useful BIM uses found in the Literature review.
 The BIM-based framework has the potential to give an overview of who should be involved and when. It can be used by practitioners who want to adopt a SEOL or a Circular Economy approach.
 Detailed guidelines for practitioners, are proposed and explained in each stage (from 0 to 8) of the SEOL strategy. BIM tasks for Designing for a Sustainable End-of-Life (DfSEOL) and procurement tasks for DfSEOL are also suggested.

Date of Award2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorEssie Ganjian (Supervisor), Hafiz Alaka (Supervisor) & Jean-Claude Morel (Supervisor)


  • Building Information Modelling (BIM)
  • Sustainable End-of-Life
  • Asset Lifecycle
  • Building design
  • Construction & Demolition Waste
  • Barriers

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