Recycling Potential and Design for Disassembly in Buildings

University dissertation from Lund Institute of Technology

Abstract: Recycling as part of environmental considerations has become a common feature in architecture and building construction. Recycling of building waste can make a considerable contribution to reducing the total environmental impact of the building sector. To increase the scope for recycling in the future, aspects of recycling have to be included in the design phase. Design for disassembly is a key task to increase the future scope for recycling. One object has been to elucidate the environmental effects due to recycling of building waste. The research has been limited to recycling of building materials, its possibilities and its environmental effects. It does not include a reuse of the building itself. Nor are effects on the indoor climate, on economy or on the working environment included. Another object has been to find a method for assessing the recycling potential in buildings and for comparing the recycling potential of buildings with reference to the initial construction. The recycling potential can be briefly described as a way to express how much of the embodied energy and natural resources could, through recycling, be made useable after recycling. It has also been an object to formulate guidelines for a design for disassembly. The research work has been mainly performed through theoretical studies, collecting experiences from practitioners and through case studies. In case studies established methods of life cycle assessment and the, in the thesis suggested, recycling potential approach have been used. Constructions and recycling scenarios were varied. A brief overview of how recycling is handled in different assessment methods is presented. A method for assessing the recycling potential is suggested. The recycling potential has been calculated for different buildings and the annually produced building waste in Sweden. General guidelines are given for design for disassembly in building construction. Measures and future work are suggested to increase recycling.