Design for Deconstruction – Helping Construction Unlock the Benefits of the Circular Economy

The emerging principles of the circular economy are driving greater resource efficiency. Construction and the built environment is the single biggest user of materials and generator of waste in the UK economy. Effectively dealing with buildings at the end of their life has the potential to unlock significant economic value. However the value that can be extracted is very much dependent on how the buildings have been designed and built. Design for Deconstruction (DfD) looks at how decisions made at the design stage can increase the quality and quantity of materials that can be re-used at the end of a building’s life.

BRE, with support from the BRE Trust, have developed an outline methodology to assess the deconstruction potential of new build residential. Application of this methodology could lead to the reduction of CO2 emissions through the benefits of reusing and recycling materials and components from buildings at the end of their life, by addressing ‘Circular Economy principles’ in the built environment. The methodology involves a combination of using checklists and a scoring approach relating to a number of criteria, making use of information from design drawings and project specifications. Consequently, an overall deconstruction potential score is obtained for a residential building.

The methodology has been applied to a number of residential case studies including two modular constructions and a more traditional brick and block; and an office building and a ski-slope construction. The case studies describe the methodology, the deconstruction potential and recommendations for achieving an improved deconstruction capability.
This collection of case studies aim to raise awareness amongst architects, designers and contractors of the potential of deconstruction to create more sustainable buildings and some of the actions that can lead to better deconstruction outcomes.

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