Circular Economy in Buildings

About the Project

Abstract: how to optimize new building projects and renovations.

                                                                Circular Economy in Building

Building smart means sustainability in all aspects of a domiciles’ planning and building. It supersedes the basic idea, that quality is merely longevity. It means that not only does a domicile require a sensible way of insulating, heating, lighting and living within one’s home, but also that the owner/consumer can/SHOULD participate in the process in a way that will contribute to ecology of society and, yes, the ecology of the planet. It more or less is an economic oracle, a way for the consumer to predict the product’s recurring cost and maintenance in the years to come. And it is relatively simple to obtain: it’s based in preliminary planning and consideration.

 Circular economy means exactly what it spells: sensible solutions regarding the form and construction of a building, but also thinking further ahead. Modern building is not only about the way one lives in one’s home and how much energy consumption matters, regarding the planets’ reserve of fossil fuels, but also how the life expectancy of the building materials pan out.

The Idea is that every type of building materials has a relatively fixed number of years before they need replacing. Either because of wear and tear or because something better comes along, which would improve the buildings’ features in one way or another. The thought of circular economy therefore starts in the planning of the building.

Typically, in Denmark that is, a buildings’ windows last maybe 25 years, before they need replacing, depending on what material the frames are and how they are mounted. The tiles in the bathroom last maybe 30-50 years, the faucets 15-20 years and so on. The point is to implement these known foreseen changes into the buildings running economy. To realize that to have a fully operational well-functioning building one’s entire lifespan, one needs to think and plan ahead.

The “circularity” in building economy is to acknowledge the abovementioned facts and rethink materials and their lifespans. For example:

Reuse sanitized materials like bricks or use concrete made from concrete slags or demolished concrete ground into new cement mixtures and the like. Be part of the cycle

Regarding windows, doors and roofing: purchase the products that need minimum maintenance with the longest longevity: postpone discarding. Don’t add to the ever-growing pile of rubbish cluttering the planet, unless there is no other possibility

When You are planning a structure, You need to think ahead. You need to get down to nitpicking every part of the structure: how much does it cost to establish, to maintain, to replace and all these points should be considered in the early phases of the project so Your client knows what to expect. The essential point is, that You can, with only a slight extra effort, deliver a product that will sustain itself, and be topnotch regarding ecology and economy. Circular economy is how You consider every part of a buildings’ aspects by implementing all essential replaceable items into Your economic considerations. It is basically a user guide or manual on how to optimize Your, in this case building-product.

And the “Cradle to Cradle”  goes beyond the implementations of a building. It’s basically the only choice, considering how all of the world is evolving.

If one would set a few examples, I would first mention Aalborg Cement. Their entire production implements recycled materials, and they are one of the biggest cement suppliers in northern Europe.

Some of the Danish brickworks also market used bricks, which has a number of benefits: no fuel has been used to produce the bricks; the bricks are already worn, so one’s building already has an air of belonging(Patina, appearance)

But the main theme is how a consumer can follow up on the product and help planning ahead: Knowing  what to expect and knowing how to contribute in a positive way. In Denmark the legislature enforces the idea. BR 2015, the updated Danish building-code, implies the concept throughout. It’s aspiring to reach levels suitable for 2050, thirty-five years before it’s needed, to eradicate fossil fuels and reaching a level, where everything is actually paying off.

 

 

Keynotes:

Cradle to cradle: Ones ability to plan and foresee all aspects of a product.

Complying with the everchanging market on the terms of the product

For further information, it is vital to keep updated on new advances on the market, go to this website: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-12-989_en.htm, where the “cradle to cradle”-concept is further elaborated regarding the European market.

Definition: Circular%20Economy%20in%20Building.docx

Hanus Dahl Kastalag, student at VIA University College Campus Horsens.