Construction Network
Digital Reuse Platform
The exploration of a digital reuse platform to enable 100% reuse of building materials.

01

Challenge

According to various studies, the construction industry is the cause of more than 40% of carbon emissions globally and according to 50% of waste produced. The world’s resources are finite and increasingly scarce, however there is currently no secondhand marketplace for materials (at least not one which helps you capture more value from new and existing assets). Tight margins in the construction industry and a focus on capital costs prevent stakeholders from looking beyond short term solutions.

02

Impact

The digital reuse platform project addresses the industry-wide need to reduce our reliance on the consumption of raw materials by:

  • Developing digital platform(s) to translate material waste into value
  • Demonstrating the value proposition for design for re-assembly rather than single use built assets
  • Reducing single use and linear consumption patterns by increasing remanufacturing and track and trace processes
  • Encouraging the use of material passports
  • Increasing the residual value of materials
  • Giving more flexibility to building owners, investors, and occupiers
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03

Story

In 2018, BAM (a major European Construction company) completed two projects in The Netherlands with high circular economy ambitions. These were complex projects which required a different approach – an economic model focused on total cost (including operational costs and increased residual value of materials than current norms), and a collaborative design ethos facilitating not just design for disassembly of building materials, but design for reassembly and reuse/ remanufacture – enabling materials to be made again.

This approach realised the need for a future where built assets should no longer be considered for short-term use, without consideration of total costs (i.e. capital, operational and end of life costs), or even better, the opportunity for building assets to be adapted, utilised again, or remanufactured either in whole or as a kit of parts (in a wider ecosystem).

 

Journey

The journey followed an intense innovation funnel Start-up process; Ideation; Discovery and Prototyping, whilst aligning with BAM’s Net Positive Strategy; to become the leader in the digitalisation of the construction industry; becoming resource positive; developing circular products and services and growing profitably.

Following several months of workshops, (including storyboarding, preparing use cases and classifications of components types etc), we successfully produced a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to:

  1. Match supply and demand of materials
  2. Create a digital product passport prototype
  3. Design a methodology to quantify higher residual values of built assets
  4. Devise an approach to promote circular design principles
  5. Create a digital platform to reuse materials
  6. Create opportunities for new industry business models

 

Lessons learned

The dilemma remains that whilst governments, cities and corporate organisations measure success based on short term metrics above everything else, the Built Environment risks staying the same…unable to see the social, environmental and economic advantages that circular business models will be able to provide.

We need to disrupt this deadlock by opening up an industry collaboration (of the willing) to test and develop methodologies and to offer solutions for designing for better utilisation and productivity of materials, products and components.

For an industrywide platform to succeed, we need to first challenge linear business models in favour of a vision where every stakeholder is incentivised to design and procure materials to be made for reuse.