Integrated Design with Reclaimed Steel

Development of a Design Workflow and Computational Tool to Facilitate the Reuse of Structural Steel in New Building Designs

More Info


The rapid growth in building stock and the demand for new construction present significant challenges in terms of material scarcity, waste production, and greenhouse gas emissions. To address these challenges, a fundamental shift in the construction industry's approach is needed, viewing waste as a resource through circularity principles. This research focuses on the application of circular principles and resource efficiency in the reuse of structural steel within the European construction industry. However, the utilization of reclaimed steel in construction projects faces significant challenges, including the condition of reclaimed elements, the need for repairs and refurbishment, unclear stakeholder responsibilities, and the absence of contractual frameworks. Communication gaps and coordination complexities further compound these challenges.

Despite these obstacles, the research demonstrates that reclaimed steel can be successfully integrated into projects with proper planning, coordination, and expertise. A comprehensive analysis of existing practices and challenges, interviews with industry professionals, and literature review inform the development of a design framework and a computational tool.

The proposed design workflow incorporates strategies to address the identified challenges and promote efficient steel reuse within the different project phases. Additionally, a computational tool facilitates the integration of reclaimed steel through a digital inventory and matching algorithm. The matching algorithm enables the retrieval of stock information from a digital inventory. A matching algorithm is implemented to compare the list of design elements needed for a project with the available stock list. This tool efficiently identifies possible substitutions, enabling designers and engineers to find suitable reclaimed steel sections for their projects. Lastly, the design workflow and computational tool were successfully tested through a design case study, demonstrating their effectiveness and environmental impact results to allow users to make informed design decisions.

Overall, this thesis project offers valuable insights and practical solutions to advance the implementation of steel reuse in the construction industry, making a significant contribution to the field of sustainable construction.