ASBP at 1st International Conference on Construction Circular Economy

Katherine Adams, a Technical Associate at ASBP attended the 1st International Conference on Construction Circular Economy and gave a presentation on behalf of ASBP on a project we were involved in, funded by Climate-KIC, which looked at some of the economics, motivations and business models for reusable buildings. This lead to the development of a vision and roadmap for reusable buildings with a specific focus on the social housing sector. The project report can be found here. ASBP are looking at different funding sources to develop this project further, hopefully moving to the level of demonstrators.

The aim of the conference was to bring together construction industry circular economy practitioners, researchers, policy makers, clients, suppliers, funders and other stakeholders to showcase achievements so far, to identify future challenges and to devise new methods of working to speed up the transformative journey. A brief overview of the conference and some of the presentations are provided below. The conference programme can be found here. The conference was jointly organised by Professor Yong Wang of University of Manchester, Professor Peter Hopkinson of University of Exeter and Professor Dennis Lam of University of Bradford as part of the ESPRC funded REBUILD project.

Keynote speakers included Professor Julian Allwood, who opened the conference with a thought- provoking presentation that circular economy doesn’t solve our problems when we continue to consume high amounts of material and cannot replace most of these materials at scale. However, only 6 sectors really matter in terms of their consumption, including the construction sector, and as such we can be highly targeted in our actions which include extending life, avoiding over-design, optimise the use of material and avoiding ‘scrap’. David Cheshire from AECOM provided many examples of where circular economy thinking has been applied for both buildings and products, with some such as the dry laying of flooring, saving cost and programme time. Duncan Baker Brown from Brighton University gave an architect’s perspective and the importance of change, by managing our materials responsibly and mining the many materials already in-use.

There were several notable presentations on circular economy from practitioners including Roy Fishwick from Cleveland Steel and Tubes Ltd., an ASBP Patron member, who shared his experience of erecting a 12,000m2 portal frame building, which had been bought second-hand and estimated to have saved £1 million. The University of Manchester and one of their contractors, Balfour Beatty shared their environmental strategy and how this applied though KPIs and across the supply chain. Murphys, a construction contractor, shared the development of their online portal for internal reuse and have saved an estimated £65,000 in just one quarter. The Irish Rediscovery Centre was presented offering support for circular economy opportunities and they showcased the transformation of their offices, an old boiler house with the use of thermal and PV solar panels, hempcrete and salvaged sheep’s wool.

Other presentations included the reuse of steel piles, LCA for demountable structures, the need to reduce office floor loadings and save materials as a result, UKGBC presenting their new client guidance for Circular Economy, an overview of the GLA’s circular economy requirements and a related decision making framework, think pieces on how to progress circular economy and the Cradle to Cradle framework and how it being applied in the built environment. There was also the exciting development of a BIM-RFID-CLOUD system to track materials in Australia.

Presentations were given on the REBUILD project including developing a 3D model to map materials that are available for reuse in the existing stock in areas of Manchester, Leeds and Bradford, and trials for reclaiming bricks laid with cement mortar by punching and saw cutting, which in a lab environment are proving successful.

On more of the technical side, there were several presentations that focused on glass, the recycling of it and innovative end uses such as wall tiles and the need for circular economy thinking in façade engineering. Other materials presented included glulam and CLT and the retention of carbon, the hygrothermal properties of hempcrete, the classification of recycled aggregates from construction and demolition waste and the use of biological materials such as mycelium.  There was also a session on the behaviours of steel in a variety of circular economy applications.

Find out more about the event at www.confercare.manchester.ac.uk/events/iccce2019.

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