Spec Finish

Turn to page 18 to see how some companies are working hard to reduce waste. Sustainability www.thefis.org 17 Material banks The Paris Agreement states that we need to keep rising temperatures below 2⁰C and ideally 1.5⁰C – which means reducing GHG emissions by 50% by 2030. Based on the impacts highlighted above, the construction industry has a huge task ahead of it in order to support this agenda. The large amounts of waste generated by construction is a reflection on the fact that the industry does not allocate value to the materials that make buildings. Some of these wastes could be avoided if treated differently. We need a shift towards seeing buildings as material banks and we need to understand how materials might be taken out of buildings without being crushed, then separated to avoid cross-contamination and reused as much as possible. This is part of what is referred to as ‘circular economy’. Now that the price of materials is rapidly increasing due to global supply chain issues, there is a real opportunity to rethink how we approach fit-out. Re-think then re-use This shift in the industry requires cross industry collaboration to identify materials that might become available, store and record them so they can be identified as a resource by another party. The demolition contractors should be encouraged to carry out pre-demolition/pre-refurbishment audits to identify what materials are available in what quantity, condition and where. Ideally, this information should be reported to the construction contractor at an early stage of the projects to see if materials can be reused at the same location. If that’s not the case, then, ideally, the information on materials should be communicated to other projects nearby in need of resources. Challenges to this system are often related to: • a lack of information on the supply of materials; • the warranty of products to guarantee their performances; and • the perception that the materials are of lower quality or aesthetics. Materials are currently cheap and budgets are tight so there is little incentive to change the business-as-usual approach i.e. to buy new. Benefits of re-use However, there is a wind of change. There is a realisation that re-using more materials is a good thing. It will reduce the impact of the industry by reducing the whole life carbon impact of buildings, it reduces the high resource demand, it reduces wastes and creates more local supply chain, which reduces a reliance on the global market. There are also benefits for stakeholders and a number of companies have been taking action to move towards a more circular approach to procuring products. Circular design Designers, such as Perkins + Will are leading and influencing the industry in taking a more circular approach to design. They have set themselves the challenge to design 50% of all their projects to be 100% circular by the end of 2021 and all their projects to be 100% circular by 2025. They define circularity as design that is: • adaptable to reflect the changes in needs of the occupants; • design for disassembly – to enable products and materials to be separated at the end of their use and to enable greater chance of re-using them in a next life; and • greater standardisation in component sizes, which provides a better chance of re-use of the component. But designers can also influence product choices. Aesthetic is important in fit-out projects. Adam Strudwick, Principal at Perkins + Will, says that we needed to think about a new definition for what looks good to recognise that re-used materials might look slightly different. The choice of more unfinished surfaces and more exposed detailing can enable greater reuse. He said: “Every building should be a materials bank for the next project”. Opportunities for contractors From a contractor point of view, there are opportunities to improve current practice by: • carrying out pre-demolition/refurbishment audits to identify materials that could be reused. In particular, the transition from Cat A to Cat B is a potential opportunity as materials are often still new when taken out of Cat A offices; and • segregating surplus materials on site to avoid contamination could enable contractors to send the materials back to manufacturers. Greater reuse of materials in projects will support contractors’ targets towards low carbon solutions. Re-purpose and recycle Willmott Dixon Interiors have been working with CAMA to provide a sustainable and circular economy solution for the transport and storage of any unwanted but reusable assets and materials on its projects. Jon Meeks, Head of Supply Chain at Willmott Dixon Interiors, said: “Instead of disposing of materials that could potentially be used on another job we ask CAMA to collect them from our projects, asset tag, photograph and store them for use at a later date, all of this information is uploaded to an online dashboard. We share this information with all our project teams every month and if an item is useable to them then they can access the dashboard and request delivery direct to their site. “By taking this approach we can share, repurpose and recycle efficiently. We are reducing the amount of waste we send to landfill and improving our environmental impact. Secondly the re-used items on our projects contribute to improving our BREEAM score and the overall carbon impact of the buildings and places that we create.” Manufacturers Manufacturers also have a key role to play in a circular economy approach. Some have created take back schemes, which allow them to take some of their used or unused products from site back into the manufacturing process, or find someone else to re-use them in a new project. Others lease their products as a service. This allows the manufacturers to keep track of their products and maintain/repair them appropriately. It also allows the user to have confidence that the products they lease are meeting their expectations. FIS re-use initiative In order to reduce its environmental impact during the construction stage, the construction industry needs to start making more use of products already in use. There are a number of initiatives in place, but they need to be scaled up to have a real impact on the environment. FIS has identified this an opportunity for the sector and is engaging its members in a re-use initiative focusing specifically on surplus materials and Cat A to Cat B waste. 1. ZAW-Report-Final-Draft-25-February-2020.pdf (constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk )

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