HOUSEFUL – El Bloc dels Mestres

Sabadell, Spain Construction and Development, Environment and Resource efficiency, Relations to stakeholders
EU funded project
“HOUSEFUL proposes an innovative paradigm shift towards a circular economy for the housing sector. The main goal is to develop and demonstrate an integrated systemic service composed of 11 circular solutions co-created by stakeholders in current housing value chain.”


This demonstration project is part of the HOUSEFUL project (funded by the EU Horizon 2020 programme), which targets the uptake of circular buildings in the housing sector.

HOUSEFUL will pursue its objectives by designing innovative interventions for efficient management of materials, waste, water and energy along the entire housing value chain. This will be done by demonstrating the feasibility of an integrated systemic service composed of 11 circular solutions, which will be demonstrated in four different buildings including this empty building in Sabadell (Spain). The Bloc dels Mestres used to house the teachers working at the neighboring primary school.


The so-called teachers’ block (“El bloc dels Mestres”) is a residential building built in the early sixties.

The building consists of eight residential floors with two flats per floor and is located in Sabadell (Spain, approximately 20 km North of Barcelona). It is adjacent to an educational centre (the current Joan Sallarès i Pla school) and was initially intended as a teachers’ residence. The building has become increasingly disused over recent years and all 16 flats need deep refurbishment.

The refurbishment project foresees the following actions: building envelope refurbishment with insulated façade; solar thermal systems; maintenance of current size and distribution; use as rented social housing for large families at risk of social exclusion.

HOUSEFUL will provide an advance in this building circularity by offering solutions for its calculation (S1), offering new methodologies for stakeholder engagement (S2) and co-creation of innovative solutions on materials (S3, S4), water (S5 in a minimum of 8 homes), waste (S7, S8, S9) and energy resources (S10, S11).

Issues tackled

The following circular solutions will be developed and demonstrated at building scale in each demo building.

Holistic solutions:
HOUSEFUL offers stakeholders of the housing sector an innovative holistic model as an integrated services, replicable to other residential buildings.

Materials solutions:
In accordance to the recent European policy initiatives promoting the construction and refurbishment of buildings in a resource efficient way, HOUSEFUL will implement a circular approach in the use and disposal of construction materials.

Water solutions:
The housing sector accounts annually for 33% of water consumption. With the aid of Nature Based Solutions (NBS) water can be recycled and reused in domestic environments.

Waste solutions:
“Construction and demolition” is one of the five priority areas to be tackled in the context of the European circular economy. Its principles allow for the implementation and incorporation of waste management into economically viable and sustainable solutions that convert retrofit investments from a liability into an asset.

Energy solutions:
At European level, the housing sector is responsible for the consumption of about 40% of available energy, especially due to the low renovation rate of existing buildings. As a consequensce, much of the EU building stock is in need of renovation, with more than 40% of it built before 1960 and 90% before 1990.

The 11 HOUSEFUL solutions will be made available as SaaS – Software as a Service.

Actors involved

  • Leitat (ES)
  • ITEC (ES)
  • Cartif (ES)
  • Alchemia Nova (AT)
  • Agencia de Habitatge de Catalunya (ES)
  • Visum (ES)
  • Aiguasol (ES)
  • LGI (FR)
  • Architekturburo Reinberg (AT)
  • Turntoo (NL)
  • Neues Leben (AT)
  • Housing Europe (EU)
  • WE&B (ES)
  • Icons (IT)
  • IDP (ES)
  • Homebiogas (IL)

Actions carried out

  • S1 Definition of a new method for the analysis of Building circularity
  • S2 Social engagement for co-creation
  • S3 Development of 4 Material Passports based on advanced 3D model
  • S4 Searching local building material
  • S5 Efficient treatment and reuse of rainwater and greywater
  • S6 Efficient treatment and reuse of un-segregated water
  • S7 Blackwater and Bio Waste treatment for biogas production
  • S8 High quality fertiliser/compost of local origin
  • S9 Optimal management of waste at the end of building life cycle
  • S10 Improvement of energy efficiency by active and passive solutions
  • S11 Guarantee the energy saving/production in buildings


HOUSEFUL’s main objectives are:

  • To develop a methodology to quantify the degree of circularity of buildings at different stages along their whole life cycle;
  • To demonstrate and validate the project’s methodology at lab scale and, in 4 selected European buildings, at large scale;
  • To assess the potential environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the demonstrated circular strategies;
  • To ensure the marketability of HOUSEFUL’s circular solutions as an integrated systemic service and the development of a
  • Software as a Service for replication of services in the housing sector;
  • To deliver policy recommendations at local, regional, national and EU scale to foster circularity in housing;
  • To raise awareness and acceptance of HOUSEFUL services among the public and relevant stakeholders to foster their replication.


HOUSEFUL’s interventions are expected to have the following impacts:

  • Reduction in the use of resources (materials, energy and water) in the housing sector;
  • Reduction of waste destined to landfills (from current 40% to 10% in 10 years);
  • Recovery of >95% of food waste at home level;
  • Recycling of >90% of rainwater, greywater and blackwater for production of reclaimed water and biogas;
  • Production of high quality biogas and efficient valorisation (>90% conversion yield) as renewable heat and/or power at home level;
  • High quality compost production from digestate (approx. 0.55 kg compost/kg digestate);
  • Reduction of non-renewable primary energy consumption of buildings up to 50%;
  • Reduction of up to 60% of CO2 emissions, contributing to the efforts to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5ºC, as provided for in the COP21 Paris Agreement.

Why it works

The project is still underway.

One concrete example was presented at 7th International Conference on Sustainable Solid Waste Management by Dolores Hidalgo, Director of the Circular Economy Area at the CARTIF technology center and member of the HOUSEFUL consortium. She gave a presentation on biogas upgrading using micro-porous hollow fiber membrane contactors.

The conference focused on the promotion of practices and technologies for a better and more sustainable management of modern solid waste. Concepts such as separation at source, waste-to-energy technologies, biowaste utilization, recycling promotion and many more were at the core of the event.

Special emphasis was placed on circular economy in all key action areas and all priority sectors, including here some aspects related to the HOUSEFUL project, such as food waste, biomass products and construction & demolition waste management.



More information

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and Innovation programme under grant agreement N°776708

Housing Europe coordinates the Collaborative Community of Housing Experts (CCHE) that provides feedback to the project is ongoing. The CCHE will also be involved in the selection of Follower Buildings that will replicate the HOUSEFUL solutions. The Housing Evolutions Hub provides a special forum for the CCHE, experts and professionals to exchange on Circular Solutions in the residential sector. (registration is needed)

The project leaflet:
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