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WRAP - Designing out Waste

Design for Reuse and Recovery

63 2 
63 3Research has identified that the reuse of material components and/or entire buildings has considerable potential to reduce the key environmental burdens (e.g. embodied energy, CO etc,) resulting from construction. Much of this is common sense as, with reuse, the effective life of the materials is extended an thus annualised burdens are spread over a greater number of years. Reuse, in the waste hierarchy (see Figure 2) is generally preferable to recycling, where additional processes are involved, some of which will have their own environmental burdens. In construction, reuse may imply the reuse of existing materials on site (the focus of this section of the guide) or the use of 'new' materials that contain a high level of recycled material (often referred to as 'recycled content'). Of course, reuse of existing materials is not simply limited to immediate on site material or components, but also to the reuse of materials and components that have been salvaged from other sites. Extensive guidance on materials with recycled content can be found in the following WRAP publications:

  • Setting a requirement for recycled content – summary.
  • Setting a requirement for recycled content in building projects.
  • Recycled content product guide.
  • Reclaimed building products guide.
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The first consideration of Design for Reuse and Recovery starts with the site analysis, a site visit being perhaps one of the very first activities carried out prior to design. The reuse of buildings (if any on the site, including parts of buildings) and or existing materials to accommodate the client's requirements should be considered from this very early stage (typically Stage A-C in the RIBA Plan or Work). If the decision is made that only a new building will satisfy the client's requirements, demolition and site clearance consequentially follow. Even in these instances the following questions should be asked: Where opportunities exist for reusing materials and/or components, these will need to be reviewed to ensure that they meet the required functionality of the new building design. Where no such opportunities exist, then the architect should advise the client and/or the demolition contractor as appropriate and promote good practice in the demolition to ensure maximum recovery of materials through recycling. For further guidance refer to the WRAP publication Environmental impact of higher recycled content.www.wrap.org.uk/construction for more information.– a step by step guidance: The efficient use of materials in regeneration projects.

Key questions

  • Can materials from demolition of the building or other phases be
  • Can reclaimed products or components be reused?
  • When materials are reused, can they be reused at their highest valueCan any excavation materials be reused?
  • Can cut and fill balance be achieved? How can it be optimised to avoid removal of spoil from site?

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