With the built environment responsible for almost 40% of energy-related carbon emissions globally, we must find new ways to design and construct our cities.

Reuse of materials is a key principle within a circular economy, ensuring material value is maintained for as long as possible. Use of reclaimed materials in construction has the potential to reduce the embodied carbon of construction, minimising the need for virgin material extraction and production as well as reducing volumes of waste generated and other negative externalities. Re-use of materials is not yet common practice and is not without challenges. It is our belief that these challenges can be overcome.

Material reuse is often talked about but rarely are actionable solutions proffered. Whilst re-using a material will often be a low-environmental impact option, it may not always be the case. It is important that careful consideration is given to ensure that there are not unintended consequences of doing so.

Working with Grosvenor and ReLondon, Arup have produced guides for project teams on how to reuse common materials. These material profiles begin to explore the challenges and opportunities associated with re-using different materials as well as providing recommendations if re-use is to be pursued. We also present our vision for a project workflow which highlights additional steps from a business-as-usual approach to facilitate material re-use

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Evaluating re-use potential: Material profiles and vision for project workflow