Reuse potential of building materials derived from existing dwellings

In recent years, environmental efforts in the building sector were mainly concentrated on reducing the operational energy of buildings while a well-considered use of materials is at least as important to further reduce our ecological footprint. The concept ‘Urban mining’ considers buildings as material banks, which can be dismantled into valuable components and deliver materials to reuse in other building projects.

This PhD aims to gain more insight in the reuse potential of building materials derived from single family and small multifamily dwellings, with a focus on social housing. In the first place, the typical construction assemblies and building materials in 10 selected case studies of different construction periods will be mapped. For these materials, technical criteria that impact the reuse potential (e.g. ease of disassembly, exposure, etc.) will be researched. Both the financial costs and the environmental impact of reuse (i.e. reclamation processes, storage, etc.) will be investigated for at least 10 building materials by using LCC (Life Cycle Costing) and LCA (Life Cycle Assessment).

Based on the technical criteria, LCC and LCA, a comprehensive framework will be developed allowing architects, contractors etc. to gain insight in the reuse potential of existing building materials. Material manufacturers and demolition companies will gain more knowledge on materials that will become available for reuse in the coming years. This PhD will also allow to further shape the policy on
sustainable use of building materials.

Project Info

Research group: Building Physics
Start Date: 01/11/2022
Researcher: Katrien Devos
Academic supervisors: Marijke Steeman and Lionel Devlieger

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