While the principle of mining resources through the demolition of existing buildings is clear, and indeed much demolition material is recycled, the means to achieve the higher level of re-use required for a proper circular economy are not yet clear. This is particularly true for owner-occupied houses. Municipalities will have to take a lead role in collection and sorting of building and demolition waste from this source. With the intent to investigate the possibilities to create a regional market and supply chain for recycling of materials and components, this project will bring together stakeholders (owners, contractors (or trade associations), suppliers, municipalities, and waste handling businesses) to compare- and (further) develop best practices in recycling, and examine the possibilities for upcycling recovered resources.
The systems, elements, and materials, which provide the best opportunities for re-use and upcycling will be identified, and the required supply chains will be mapped out. Systems to be examined can e.g. include primary structural systems, heating and plumbing systems, electrical systems, window and doorframes, and flooring systems.
The project will test the viability of the realization of the principles of circular economy in the housing system on three levels:
- Mapping resources and estimating the volume and type of elements and materials, which can be recovered from demolition of owner-occupied housing will be a necessary prerequisite to establishing adequate material flows to justify the development of supply chains and economic incentives for the recovery of building elements in conditions suitable for re-use.
- Detailed studies of the variety of building designs and construction methods, will be performed to identify reusable elements and materials, and the, demolition techniques required to preserve the greatest feasible value from the structures to be demolished.
- Design supply chains, which can deliver the re-manufactured elements and materials back into the housing construction process.
To maximize the take-up of recovered materials and elements, markets need to be established at national and regional levels. This will require normalization of methods for mapping resources, resource recovery, and reconditioning.
By examining all aspects of the cycle, with all stakeholders, the project will attempt to test the economic viability of circular building.