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Buildings and infrastructure account for almost 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions and the sector consumes finite resources at the rate of 40 billion tons of raw material every year. The LafargeHolcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction has produced six short videos that each focus on an important aspect of circular materials flows. The videos follow-on from expert discussions at the LafargeHolcim Forum on Re-materializing Construction and cover a selection of solutions to help reach net-zero targets for the building and infrastructure sector.
To reduce the amount of raw material extracted from the earth each year, we need to move from a wasteful take-make-throw model to a circular take-make-repeat economy. Increasing material efficiency, using byproducts and reusing resources can transform the materials supply chain.
Materials with only one function have short lifecycles and are discarded as waste after use. This is dangerous in a world with finite resources. A circular cradle-to-cradle approach redesigns building materials so they can be reused in loops that recover, reimagine and reconfigure indefinitely.
Mine the city
Reclaiming materials is economically and environmentally sensible. Resource extraction from decommissioned structures in cities can provide large quantities of mineral resources and metals. Urban mining reduces the rate of raw material extraction and the volume of landfill.
Using local materials and know-how has social and economic benefits. Local materials can reduce emissions from production and transportation, and capitalize on local resources, know-how and labor. Investing in local production makes a long-term positive change to material flows.
It’s important to consider the environmental, social and economic impact of any building. Material performance and resource efficiency must be taken into consideration to determine the optimum blend for efficient building construction, use and recycling.
Most buildings have value in the future beyond their originally planned use. Designing structures for adaptation and cleverly converting buildings rather than replacing them entirely can extend building lifespans and preserve historic fabric, as well as make projects more interesting and sustainable.
SOURCE: First Published on Leading Architecture & Design