Despite current efforts to build structures in a more sustainable manner, the energy and resources embedded in building materials and components themselves are not given as much attention as the energy consumed during a building’s life. Through research on the circular economy, we seek to investigate its application in the building industry to demonstrate the potential for reusing building components and reducing embodied carbon in our own projects.
Producing common building materials like concrete, gypsum, flooring, and windows require large amounts of energy and the consumption of finite resources. Most of the time, their lifecycles end in a landfill after demolition. In best-case scenarios, they end up recycled or down-cycled, processes that still require plenty of energy.
of building materials are wasted during construction
of demolition materials are landfilled (in the EU)
of global carbon dioxide is created in the process of producing cement and steel for construction
To revolutionize our industry, we first need to address the continuing increase in construction waste, which already consumes too much space and results in serious health consequences. Second, we need to raise awareness about the severe reduction in availability of finite raw materials. And third, reduce the environmental pressure caused by extraction and production which results in pollution, ecosystem degradation, and increasing emissions contributing to climate change.
Around the world businesses, researchers, policy-makers, architects, and engineers are experimenting with and implementing The Circular Economy’s core principles. Within the building industry, this means identifying solutions to safely and sustainably deconstruct and reuse building materials, as well as encouraging and enforcing the most effective recycling methods when re-use is not possible.
After researching the current practices and the capacities and resistances of the local construction context, the next stage of this project focuses on designing a specific building component primed for re-use, and developing a solution to re-use existing building components. Our goal is to design prototypes for display in an interactive exhibition for the public.