Resource productivity



Resource productivity in the construction sector should be interpreted as the measure of the annual quantity of extracted virgin materials, in relation to the (economic) value created from this quantity.

Maximising resource productivity is one of the objectives when setting up a circular economy and using buildings as Material(s) Banks.

After all, it is expected that relatively more value will be created during the production of goods and the delivery of services if waste is avoided and materials are reused.


The proposed definition is adopted from the conventional definition of resource productivity by the European Commission, wherein the total Domestic Material Consumption is replaced by the quantity of extracted virgin materials. Consequently, this measure will increase if more materials are reused. This interpretation requires however further investigation.

Moreover, an increase in resource productivity, might indicate that a decoupling between the extraction of virgin materials and economic development takes place. This measure could change many mind-sets and make clear that well-being is not related to the level of material extraction and that lowering raw material use rates should not result in reduced economic development.

Further, note that ‘productivity’ is a measure of an economic activity, but not the activity itself.


Debacker W. and Manshoven S. (2016) Synthesis of the state-of-the-art BAMB report: Key barriers and opportunities for Materials Passports and Reversible Building Design in the current system. VITO.

Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2012) Towards the Circular Economy, an economic and business rationale for an accelerated transition. Cowes: Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Eurostat (2016) Resource productivity – Statistics Explained. Retrieved March 2017, from

Urban mining: recovering materials or assemblies of materials from the building stock instead of using virgin materials.

Rare earth elements: chemical elements found in the earth’s crust that are vital to many modern technologies but are difficult to find in quantities enabling their economic development.