Maylarch becomes latest to put weight behind Design for Deconstruction.
UK demolition contractor Maylarch has become the latest company to tie its colours to the Design for Deconstruction mast, posting an open letter to Foster & Partners design director Gerard Evenden in response to Evenden’s recent talk at the EcoBuild conference.
Maylarch managing director Nick Williamson take the opportunity to remind Evenden of the huge strides that the UK demolition industry has made in the reuse and recycling of materials and calls upon the construction industry to factor in reuse and recycling when designing a new building.
The letter makes for fascinating reading and is a perfect follow-up to our own Design for Deconstruction supplement.
I read with interest, and agreed with some of your comments about lazy thinking from lots of building contractors around sustainability, as reported in BD Online, amongst others, although I would also add lots of clients, building product designers and architects to this list for the wider construction industry.
We in the (Saintly) Demolition industry have to deal with the consequences of this lazy thinking on a daily basis!
In everyone’s defence, I think it is partly due to construction procurement practices, there are very often issues around imagination, budgets, lead in time, availability, program, cost etc… which mean project teams don’t or can’t consider the alternatives but, this is another subject, albeit linked.
Further to your point, and of particular interest to myself is the whole life of buildings and especially the end of life or the Demolition/Enabling phase which then produces large quantities of materials for reuse and recycling within the project or construction industry and beyond.
My question is – When will reuse or recycling of the building materials in modern buildings be designed in?
Currently in the UK, whenever measured, recycling and reuse from demolition is between 95-98% and, for example, is recognised as key to achieving BREEAM excellent at a 98% rate, on projects which want to qualify as such.
This is now, working on building stock generally 40 plus years old and containing building materials typically used at the time, none of which were designed to be demolished easily.
The UK Demolition Industry has achieved this level of reuse and recycling through constant innovation by contractors and equipment manufacturers and a mixture of drivers like maintaining margins, environmental legislation, client/designers/contractors requirements….
Moving forward in time….there is some anecdotal debate and a little concern, which takes into consideration the continuous rate of innovation within the UK demolition industry, about maintaining these high levels of reuse and recycling, when we are asked to demolish current buildings, in the future.
The majority of which still, do not have reuse or recycling of the building materials, designed in!
The concern comes from the way modern building products and buildings are put together and the materials therein, Eg layers of composite panels, insulation, plastics and wooden frames, and how demolition contractors will be able to separate these materials for recycling or reuse?
If the value of these products outstrips the costs of time and labour to segregate these materials in future demolition projects, a way may be found but, as this looks very unlikely, the best outcome might be lots of materials in future buildings will be shredded and incinerated for energy recovery or land filled.
To avoid this unsustainable cul-de-sac I would suggest that not only should recycled material be used in projects and building products but also, designers and engineers and those who specify products be encouraged to come up with modular building products and techniques which meet modern requirements and, in the future, that can be reclaimed and reused in similarly simple way, for example, to how a brick laid on lime mortar 150 years ago, is reclaimed and reused today.