Circular Bio-based Construction Industry
Priority AxisResource Efficient Economy
Lead partnerStichting Avans
Project budget6 969 596 €
ERDF amount4 181 758 €
The construction industry is a large consumer of resources with 30-50% of total materials used in Europe going to construction. Between 2003 and 2011 approximately 1200-1800 Megaton of construction materials were used yearly in the EU, emitting annually 33% of total CO2 emissions. However, often the components and materials used are not adaptable during their use- and life-cycle, because most building projects are still designed in a linear way, making reuse hard and hence resource efficiency low.
Despite the EU’s wish to move from linear to circular systems, applicable circular approaches are scarce. Especially those coupling the technical and biological cycle with an integral approach of sectoral aspects: technique, economy & finance and framework & regulation. Enabling change towards integral circular bio-based approach in the building sector requires new roles of stakeholders in the building sector (manufacturers, constructors, policy makers, investors, contractors & endusers).
The overall objective of CBCI is to set up the bases for the circular bio-based construction sector to become an integral part of the construction market in the 2Seas area. In this project we will enable the building sector not only to adopt an integral (process) approach for circular construction but also to use bio-based materials in a circular context for buildings (coupling technical and biological cycle) for use and life-cycle (design, production, use, maintenance and reuse). CBCI also seeks to induce change in the funding & financing of circular projects, foster circular-friendly procurement, adapt the regulatory framework, and prepare the (future) professionals to work circularly.
This integral approach will develop and strengthen a new branch of the construction sector and will reduce the use of nonsustainable resources (materials, energy), reduce the amount of waste and CO2 emissions and increase the use and reuse of resources in the construction sector.
Thanks to the integral approach of CBCI, diverse outputs will be produced to have an broad effect on the sector. 3 White papers will be published to influence the stakeholders in charge of funding & financing, of the regulatory framework (policy makers) and of procurement, with the objective to facilitate the shift towards more circularity for professionals by an enabling environment. Professionals will also benefit from a practical guide and a feasibility study, as tools to accompany them in circular construction projects, at each stage of the process. The project will harvest experience and knowledge through living-labs, that will remain as proof of concept of circular bio-based construction (CBC), and serve as cross-border educational models. In addition to these physical embodiments, CBCI will develop learning materials for professionals and students that will provide the necessary knowledge for (future) professionals to replace the linear construction approach for a circular one.
Cross border approach
Firstly, a cross-border approach is needed as circular biobased construction is only just beginning. None of the regions already has full knowledge, experience and facilities on this matter. In order to accelerate the uptake of CBC, sharing is required. Knowledge of technical aspects of biobased materials and process management is particularly available in the UBath in the UK, while pilots in the UK, NL and BE need this. Likewise, knowledge on bio-based building materials, process management and business models is in BE and NL, while all areas can learn from that. Also, the whole region can benefit from the strong network of SMEs in FR experienced in waste elimination, via observer Cd2e. Also, cross-border cooperation is needed to reach a critical mass of renewable, bio-based, materials available to take on the development of bio-based elements. Finally, comparison of cross-border cases broadens the learning. General patterns may be identified, which would otherwise remain unnoticed.
The future of the construction industry is circular and bio-based. The CBCI project is working towards that, by developing practical solutions and tools.
The first output we created is the White Paper 'Five essentials for succesful circular bio-based construction initiatives; How real estate professionals, (public) property owners and developers put circular bio-based principles into practice'. This White Paper is widely communicated, to inspire professionals and to be of practical use for them. Follow-up will take place in 2021, to increase the impact. This includes the organisation of workshops per identified essential. Two additional white papers are in progress, on procurement and rules & regulations.
For the living labs, crucial choices are made with regard to the tendering. For project partner Emergis (NL) Design & Build tender was chosen for the total renovation and new construction, whereas for KU Leuven (BE) Design & Build is chosen only for the structure and skin while lease is chosen for the plug-in modules for the HVAC systems plus the sanitary and technical installations. Through co-creation, the coming year, the CBCI team and the selected contractors will further elaborate the design and material choices to meet the outputspecifications. Results from testing and prototyping will be used for this. For the first iteration, UBath used sheeps wool, timber and Nabasco for the insulation, structural and façade solutions respectively, along with a conventional panel featuring a timber façade and rockwool for comparison. BBRI are constructing a wall with multiple panels which will test additional insulation products such as metisse and grass. Additional products under consideration for the second iteration are mycelium and the swamp plant Typha for insulation and Bio-treated timber for the façade. Design solutions are considering interlocking and gravity-based connections which can be reused and the elements disassembled. Connections under consideration are both metal and timber.
Though some parts of the project may appear rather untouched by the corona pandemic, other parts were severely affected. Particularly the investments of project partners Emergis and KU Leuven are delayed, whereas the prototyping at Avans University of Applied Sciences (NL) and the testing at the University of Bath (UK) and at BBRI (BE) could not proceed as planned. That is why we changed the timeplan and requested a major modification. Currently, we are awaiting approval.