Urban Mining: Quantifying and modelling stocks of building materials

Buildings contain large quantities of valuable building materials. Brick, steel and concrete have potential lifetimes of hundreds of years. Whilst the construction sector can claim a high ‘downcycling’ rate many of materials are often are crushed or landfilled at the end of a building life, often after only a few years or decades. 

The reclaim and  direct re-use of these materials as structural products would retain their  value at a higher level for a much longer period. Quantifying the stocks of building materials is an important first step in shifting thinking away from a destructive, demolition mind set to a circular, deconstruction paradigm.

De-construction of Buildings

Buildings are demolished for many different reasons, often well before the end of their economic or service life. Most buildings were not designed for deconstruction hence the
demolition industry has historically applied destructive techniques to remove a building
from a site. To change this approach requires new thinking and new techniques for selective
deconstruction. REBUILD has developed and advanced new engineering techniques to
overcome the challenges of reclaiming and re-using structural steel, concrete and brick products and components without damage.

Circularity Assessment

Quantifying the economic and environmental benefits of deconstructing and re-using building products is required to incentivise the building industry, policy makers and key actors to adopt new practices. REBUILD is evaluating the potential circularity benefits from applying the new deconstruction techniques to urban mining to create feedstock for new construction projects. This requires both product and system level assessment methods and tool