Brief Analysis No. 26: Deconstruction in Building Construction – Current Practice and Potential for Resource Conservation

More than half of the total German waste volume is accounted for by construction and demolition waste from the building industry. This is reason enough to include the demolition and dismantling of buildings in the planning of a building from the very beginning, in order to reduce the volume of waste and conserve natural resources. The brief analysis shows the current practice of demolishing buildings and describes the potential for resource conservation in the construction industry.

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Resource efficiency measures can be implemented at various points in the production process. The potentials are manifold. However, the increasingly complex networked production economy no longer requires only selective but also comprehensive resource efficiency measures, those that work across processes as well as across company and business boundaries.

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The efficient use of energy, materials, water and space not only saves resources, but also costs for the purchase and disposal of waste, residual materials and wastewater, for example. The networking of companies in an industrial park or with the surrounding residential areas offers many opportunities to save resources. Residential areas in particular offer high efficiency potentials as heat consumers.

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Product development has a fundamental influence on the resource efficiency of a product. Resource-conscious and forward-looking product development can significantly influence the use of materials and consequently the cost expenditure along the entire product life cycle. With regard to finite re-sources, it should be a pillar of the strategic orientation of the business.

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Biomimetics combines biology and technology in an interdisciplinary collaboration. It is an interdisciplinary field that is not limited to a research or industrial sector. The aim of biomimetics is to solve technical problems by abstraction, transfer and application of knowledge gained from biological models. Their application in the product development process as innovation method enables innovative technical solutions. These can give companies competitive advantages.

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Remanufacturing is a central measure for increasing resource efficiency. The material and energy expenditure for the manufacture of a product and the associated costs are lowered. Through remanufacturing the original high level of value added is retained and the dependence on import of critical raw materials is reduced. Remanufacturing as a key component of a circular economy is viewed as being the preferred option for closing material loops, particularly compared with recycling, and possesses a high resource efficiency potential.

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Lightweight construction is a prime example of demonstrating the potential of resource efficiency. Resource efficiency potentials in the utilisation phase of mobile products have already been investigated frequently and are widely known. In addition, the various lightweight engineering strategies and materials also offer opportunities for increasing resource efficiency in the production phase and in recycling and disposal.

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