Banking on construction materials for eco-benefits

Building materials produce a significant volume of waste which, in turn, creates a sizeable environmental impact. EU-funded research and innovation is exploring how the construction sector can embrace the circular economy, as well as increase the reuse and recycling of materials, components and building functionalities.

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Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


  Infocentre

Published: 4 May 2018  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
EnvironmentClean technology and recycling
Industrial researchBuilding & construction
Research policyHorizon 2020
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Belgium  |  Germany  |  Netherlands  |  Portugal  |  Sweden  |  United Kingdom
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Banking on construction materials for eco-benefits

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The construction industry is one of Europe’s largest industrial sectors, representing 10 % of total GDP and providing some 20 million jobs. However, it is also responsible for around 40 % of greenhouse gas emissions, it uses more than 50 % of the raw materials extracted from the Earth, and generates around one-third, in volume, of all waste produced in the EU.

To establish a future sustainable society, the building sector must move towards a circular economy, whereby buildings and building materials are repeatedly reused, recycled, adapted and rebuilt. The EU-funded BAMB project is developing, demonstrating and integrating approaches, methods and tools that will enable this shift.

“The key is ensuring the value of materials is not lost,” says project communications coordinator Lisa Apelman from Cefur – the Center for Research and Development in the Ronneby Municipality in Sweden. “Whether an industry goes circular or not depends on the value of the materials within it. Worthless materials are considered as waste, while valuable materials are reused or recycled. Increased value means less waste.” And that is what BAMB is creating: ways to maintain and enhance the value of building materials.

Passports for the future

Two key concepts are driving the BAMB project: materials passports and reversible building design.

Materials passports are data sets that describe material characteristics and assign them a value for recovery and reuse. The BAMB project is developing a materials passport platform as a proof-of-technology concept to support the generation of these passports and enable access to them. By the end of the project, more than 300 operational materials passports will have been produced.

Reversible building design produces structures that can be easily transformed or deconstructed, allowing parts to be added or removed without damaging the building, the products, the components or the materials. This allows the inherent value of materials to be maintained through resource-efficient repair, reuse and recycling. To facilitate this approach to reversible design, BAMB will develop a reuse potential tool, a transformation capacity tool, and a design protocol and virtual simulator.

“The strength of the BAMB project is in bringing the two elements together, providing the means to make key data easily accessible and providing solutions to assess and optimise materials recycling and transformation in existing and new buildings, to initiate a circular economy in the sector,” explains Apelman.

Building models and pilots

The next step in the project concerns how to combine these aspects in a decision-support model for dynamic and circular building management. A decision-making model, as well as a building information modelling (BIM) resource productivity prototype will be developed before 2019.

To support these technical innovations, BAMB is also developing new business models and policy recommendations to enable the systemic shift in the building sector towards the circular economy.

During the project, these new approaches and technologies will be demonstrated and refined with input from six real-scale construction pilots across Europe. The aim of the pilots is to eliminate 30-50 % of the CDW normally generated and to use 10-20 % less virgin resources while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The BAMB consortium is currently developing its plans for collaborative exploitation of its results. By early 2019, the first versions of the tools should be ready for use by architects, engineers, contractors, building owners, developers, producers and suppliers of materials and products across the construction sector.

Project details

  • Project acronym: BAMB
  • Participants: Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, United Kingdom
  • Project N°: 642384
  • Total costs: € 9 933 112
  • EU contribution: € 8 858 763
  • Duration: September 2015 to February 2019

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