Deconstruction, preparation for reuse and reuse of salvaged materials on a pilot construction site in Brussels

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Abstract

Since a few years, the construction sector is focusing on minimizing resources exploitation and waste arising on construction sites. The European Commission has highlighted prevention and reuse as key actions for waste management. The Brussels Capital-Region is a densely built region, generating more than 600 000 tons of C&D waste each year. However, most waste is exported to the other regions, due to limited availability of waste collecting and recycling plants. This has been one of the arguments in the political engagement of the Brussels Capital- Region in favor implementing a Regional action Plan for Circular Economy, with focus on reuse (and not recycling) of construction materials, especially in renovation projects. Within a large development project (‘eco-quartier’), a concrete experiment has been conducted on deconstruction of construction materials for reuse in the same building – originally a common demolition scenario was envisaged. Several tons of materials (wall and floor finishing) have been salvaged from a building by a deconstructor. These materials have been prepared for reuse and then sold to the owner of the site in agreement with his architects. All parties involved in the project benefited from this action since the contractor found an economic advantage compared to a conventional demolition, the deconstructor was able to employ low-skilled workers paid by the resale of materials salvaged and prepared for reuse and the architect and his client found an aesthetic and patrimonial aspect in the proposed materials good enough to reuse them on site. The paper describes all the steps and necessary conditions to succeed in reuse in construction from the point of view from the deconstructor, the contractor, the architect and the owner. This reuse experiment is a good example of the way to apply circular economy in the construction sector.