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Saving for the future – moving towards ‘buildings as material banks’

12 Feb 2018

Last month was the second annual stakeholder network meeting for the project, Buildings as Material Banks (BAMB). BAM is one of 15 partners in this EU funded Horizon 2020 program, which aims to create ways to increase the value of building materials.

Speakers representing some of the partners discuss progress so far

The BAMB project explores how buildings can act as ‘material banks’ – where materials within buildings can be easily recovered and used in a new development at the end of their life. Two key components to enabling material recovery will be reversible building designs, which allow materials to be extracted from buildings, and ‘material passports’, which will hold information about materials such as their health and disassembly instructions (data management will play a vital in keeping the passports updated). Once both of these aspects are available, new circular business models will also be needed, along with supporting policies and standards to ensure material integrity. BAMB covers all of these aspects and will undertake pilot projects to test the theory.

The annual stakeholder network meeting included a number of presentations and workshops. Dotted around the venue were description boards outlining exciting pilot projects, one of which was physically on display - the inaugural exposition of the Reversible Experience Modules (REMs). The REM exhibition showcased more than 30 healthy and reusable building materials and products that can be used together to create spaces that resemble parts of actual buildings, such as a hallway or an office area. All the materials and products have material passports, created through BAMB and accessed through a QR code, to show how they are the key tool to organise each rebuild. The REM project is on a year-long trip and will be rebuilt six times – it will be visiting Ecobuild in London March 6-8, so be sure to visit the BAMB stall to check it out!

The Reversible Experience Modules exhibition, displaying various materials and products

As well as being a knowledge partner for the project, BAM is also involved in one of the pilot projects, the Green Transformable Building Lab’ (GTBL). GTBL aims to be the place to test design tools and building products in an operational environment. The lab is designed with ‘plug-in’ components that create the ability to change the space and function of the building without a significant loss in the value of materials, while providing a healthy working environment and local energy production. Once built, the GTBL will undertake at least one full transformation of function/form to prove the reversible design concept. BAM has been helping with the design process and will help to build GTBL.

It was interesting to hear how the various projects were progressing, including the workshop, ‘Measuring the impact of circular buildings’, which went into more detail about a circular building assessment tool.  Gilli Hobbs from the BRE is leading this project and described how the tool will pull together information from various sources such as BIM, Material Passports, Lifecycle assessment and lifecycle costings, to assess the circular potential of a building. They have now completed their methodology for the assessment and are looking to trial it on pilot projects, including those being undertaken in BAMB.

Slide presented by Gili Hobbs from the BRE, showing the type of information input into the circular building assessment  

The event was a great opportunity to meet different manufacturers and hear about the fantastic work they are doing around the circular economy. Projects like BAMB ensure there is continuous progress towards a circular built environment through the collaboration of like-minded organisations to trial new innovative tools and ideas. Visit the BAMB website to find out more or visit the BAMB area at Ecobuild 2018.  


Julia Messanger is a Sustainability Advisor at BAM

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