With good planning, it is possible to promote the reuse of construction and
demolition waste and thereby both conserve the environment and save on
material costs. In the future, it will be even more important to assess how
buildings can reasonably be repaired or demolished into parts, together with
how the remaining service life of the parts can be utilized in new
applications. The best method is to implement demolition planning already as a
component of construction design.
Reuse of construction parts is always worthwhile from the perspective of the
environment, and can also be considerably cheaper than using secondary raw
materials. The production of building materials and construction itself are,
together with energy consumption during the usage stage, the most significant
factors associated with building stock that cause environmental load. By
reusing salvaged parts, the embodied energy equivalent to that required in the
manufacture of the new product is retained as well as their economic and
The current focus in basis of design is easy and efficient constructability,
but in the future the designer shall to assess how buildings can sensibly be
repaired or deconstructed into parts and how to utilize the remaining service
life of those parts in new applications. In addition, the use of natural
resources will be optimized in the manufacturing processes used for building
materials and products, and recyclable materials will be favoured.
In practical construction, planning for the purpose of reuse and recycling is
seen in accordance with the requirements in configurable or modular solutions
in which the structures and materials are long-lasting and easily reclaimed.
With good planning, the maintainability and repair potential of buildings and
building service technology can be facilitated and the expenses incurred
The best way to promote the reuse and recycling of salvaged building parts is
to introduce a demolition plan already into the further planning associated
with the project. It should be an essential component in the design concerning
the management of the life cycle of buildings and structures. In the
demolition plan, it is important to assess the material quantities that can be
utilized in various ways, as well as the demolition methods available. These
are currently presented only when applying for a permit to demolish a building.
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland studied the reuse of structural
elements in the ReUSE (Repetitive Utilization of Structural Elements) project,
which recently ended. VTT also proposes the development requirements for
improving the planning linked with demolition and repair. Of these, the most
pivotal are the development of the guidelines and legislation supporting
reuse, in addition to showing, by means of example targets, the commercial and
ecological benefits that can be obtained.
The research is connected with the Ministry of the Environment’s Green Economy
programme. The ReUSE project has been funded not only by the Ministry of the
Environment but also by Finnish Wood Research Oy, Ekokem Oy, VTT Technical
Research Centre of Finland and Tampere University of Technology.
Research reports online:
Project website: http://www.vtt.fi/sites/reuse/?lang=en