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New buildings from old bricks  


The reuse of building materials is not new. For centuries, people have stripped old buildings to obtain materials for new constructions. Today, however, construction waste is a headache for local administrations. It must be sent to landfill, or is crushed and reused as aggregate.

A project supported by the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme Eco-Innovation Initiative is showing that it does not have to be this way. The REBRICK project has established two demonstration plants in Denmark that are able to extract reusable bricks from construction waste and prepare them for reuse using a patented system that removes concrete and cement through vibration.

The system promises major environmental benefits, according to its developers, Danish company Gamle Mursten. It does not use water or chemicals, and cuts energy consumption compared to the manufacture of new bricks by 98%. For each brick, the greenhouse gas saving is 0.5 kilogrammes, meaning a saving of 8 tonnes of CO2 for an average home.

The project has successfully established a market for old bricks in Denmark. Claus Nielsen, Gamle Mursten CEO, argues that old bricks have character. “History is passed on from the old bricks to the new building,” he says. REBRICK has cooperated with local administrations to reuse the construction waste they collect.

Gamle Mursten is now looking to expand into Germany and Poland. For Denmark alone, the project estimates that 30 million bricks could be reused annually and 400 jobs could be created in the 'old brick' industry.

REBRICK project facts

Duration: June 2011 to December 2013

Partners: Gamle Mursten (Denmark), SCAN-VIBRO (Denmark), BauArte (Germany), D'Appolonia (Italy).

Funding: €1,465,868 including €718,275 from the Eco-Innovation Initiative