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Facilitating and developing the reuse of building materials

Materials reuse is an important pillar in the transition of the construction sector to a more circular economy. It stimulates the application of short cycles (thereby reducing the environmental impact) and local activities. This domain is still very much left unregulated so that concrete tools are needed to carry it further forward.

The 'BBSM' project (The Brussels building stock as a source of new materials), completed in 2021, sought to promote confidence in recovered materials among construction professionals. Here we have developed a method for assessing the technical performance of recovered materials and then applied it to several commonly reused flows: bricks, mineral wool insulation, solid wood floors, technical installations and steel structural elements. We also monitored five major demolition sites in Brussels to draw concrete lessons from reuse and recycling practices.

Tools to reduce the uncertainties surrounding the reuse of building materials

The 'Digital Deconstruction' Interreg project aims to develop innovative digital solutions to facilitate demolition work. A number of tools developed in 2021 are being tested on six pilot sites (3D scanning, BIM, databases and blockchain).

Finally, with the 'FCRBE' (Facilitating the Circulation of Reclaimed Building Elements in Northwestern Europe) Interreg project, we are aiming to increase the use of reclaimed building materials in Northwestern Europe by 50% by 2032. In a guide to identifying construction products with reuse potential, published in November, we describe how a reuse inventory can be drawn up. This guide and other tools developed during the project were tested until 2021 in 36 pilot activities (of which 12 in Belgium).