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TEA Talks: Material Reuse

Let’s mobilize and reconsider the way we produce, use and live!

Given that 80% of the buildings projected to exist in 2050 are already constructed, it is crucial that we maximize the utilization of existing materials and refrain from the extraction of raw materials.

The TEA Talks event, hosted by the School of Architecture at Lancaster University and sponsored by the AHRC IAA, encapsulates a wealth of insights from academia, practice, and industry, shedding light on crucial aspects of sustainability in the construction sector. In eight talks, experts delve into innovative strategies, challenges, and the imperative for a circular economy.

Why reuse? In the reconsidered waste hierarchy, reuse stands out as the most energy-efficient approach for fostering a circular economy, aiming to preserve the value of materials for an extended duration. Incorporating reused materials in construction holds the promise of diminishing the embodied carbon associated with construction. Furthermore, it has the potential to minimize the need for extracting and producing virgin materials, thereby contributing to a reduction in construction waste.

The TEA Talks showcased the application of a circular economy to the built environment, primarily illustrated through case studies that demonstrated real-time traceability using material passports. These presentations emphasized the significance of the value chain and provided metrics for clients. The use of pre-demolition audits is recommended to maximise material reuse and recycling, emphasizing the need to keep them at their highest value and consider buildings as treasures. The Tea talks also showcase challenges and successes of using material passports system for quantifying building materials and as an open-source database for material reuse. One critical challenge for material reuse is the need for efficient material circulation and the urgency of addressing the storage of the recovered construction materials.

Call for action: To preserve our planet and address the growing population’s needs, a call for a shift in mindset has been launched towards the reuse of existing materials. Collaboration, resourcefulness, meticulous recording of material histories through passports, guidelines creation, incentives, awareness and standards are all crucial to driving circular practices. We invite you to watch the TEA Talks videos that could serve as valuable tools for all stakeholders in the construction value chain, whether they are professionals, students or enthusiasts. These videos provide a roadmap to raise awareness and navigate the challenges and opportunities in creating a more sustainable built environment.


Dr Ana Rute Costa and Dr Rabia Charef


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