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Launch of world’s first waste-efficient design guide


A new guide - the first of its kind in the world - which offers architects and other designers guidance on how they can reduce the vast amount of waste material created through standard design details is launched today (Friday April 15th).

The guide, on Detailing For The Deconstruction Of Buildings, has been compiled by Fionn Stevenson, Reader in Architecture at University of Dundee, and Chris Morgan, of Locate Architects, for the Scottish Ecological Design Association (SEDA), following a detailed study the pair carried out last year.

The construction and demolition industries are responsible for around half of the waste now filling up landfill sites around the UK. Not only is the amount of waste we generate an indictment of our way of life and work, but space to store it is running out. In some parts of Scotland, there is already no more landfill available.

A report on Scotland’s ecological footprint identified waste as the number one concern, accounting for 38% of the overall footprint, followed by food (29%) and energy (18%) well behind.

The new guide approaches the problem from the perspective of not creating waste in the first place, by encouraging designers and builders to use materials and methods which would enable the bulk of buildings to be reused or recycled once they have reached the end of their useful lives.

This can involve a variety of measures, from using lime mortars and renders instead of cement which means bricks and blocks could be more easily separated, to exploring different types of insulation and more durable materials such as re-usable ceiling tiles.

One of the keys is using building components which are easily handled, so that both installation and removal are easy and safe.

The alternative details contained in the guide are designed for maximum "applicability" rather than ultimate "greenness".

"Whilst it is theoretically possible to dismantle every building and re-use or recycle most if not all components, in practice it is difficult and expensive. Buildings have to be designed for dismantling in the first place to make it easier, and this isn’t done just now," said Fionn Stevenson, who is also chair of SEDA.

"We have identified measures which promote inherent flexibility, so that buildings can be refurbished and adjusted to the changing needs of occupants with minimum of disruption, waste and cost to the Client. They can also be designed to allow for easy repair and maintenance of components which are worth repairing, so reducing the waste stream even further."

The guide is one of three design-themed programmes being developed by SEDA from a £70,000 Sustainable Action Grant awarded by the Scottish Executive last year.

The guide will be launched today (April 15) at a free Scottish Executive-sponsored seminar at the Lighthouse Centre for Architecture and Design in Glasgow.

The guidance will be available on the web from Friday, with all the information additionally available in downloadable format. The website is accessed through SEDA’s website, (part of the Green Building webring).

Roddy Isles | alfa
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