The aim of the ASBP is not to become a research provider. Rather we seek to identify, oversee delivery, and communicate key research which is targeted at expanding the use of demonstrably sustainable building products. This work will be entirely independent, rigorous and transparent.
The ASBP has already overseen the delivery of, soon to be published research aimed at quantifying the contribution of construction timber in creating a carbon sink. Continuing our work with research delivery partners (academic institutes, industry research centres, consultancies) the ASBP has identified other key research priorities:
Undertake a state of current knowledge review of the sustainability impacts of building products from resource extraction, production and use, to end of life, and undertake a gap analysis.
Develop an approach that will help to quantify the environmental, social and economic benefits of switching to more sustainable building products, as well as to identify effective interventions. Priorities include:
- The health impact of building products on contractors and building occupants.
- Market research aimed at identifying appropriate intervention tools to overcome legislative and behavioural barriers to change.
- The carbon impact of building products, and the potential for significant carbon emission reduction through bio-derived and other low embodied energy sustainable building products.
CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS
PREVIOUS RESEARCH PROJECTS
Commencing in September, this 6 months feasibility project funded by Innovate UK, will explore the market for steel re-use, examining the barriers and solutions, with specific research into a new value network, to assist with overcoming these barriers. The team includes structural engineers Ellis and Moore, Portal Power Eastern, the Steel Construction Institute (SCI) and Cullinan Studio. The National Federation of Demolition Contractors, UCL Institute of Sustainable Resources, University of Cambridge and Cleveland Steel and Tubes will all contribute expertise to the project.
Overcoming the barriers to steel re-use could kick-start a market in five to ten years of 25kT per year, 10% of current UK scrap arising, with a value of £12.5m. Steel re-use has 2% impact of new steel and re-use offers potential cost benefits, as well as job creation.
Circular economy principles indicate that the building is no longer the end product. Instead, the built environment should be viewed as a rolling infrastructure of products; this demands a new approach to the design of buildings. By designing first for deconstruction and re-use, it is essential that architects, engineers and deconstruction/ salvage experts communicate; currently they are at either end of a linear supply chain. This project will develop a plan for a value network to address this and examine a specific business model for Portal Power to operate in this market.
We are also collaborators in a project led by SCI, with the University of Cambridge and NFDC. This supply chain integration proposal aims to demonstrate the feasibility of a 'supply-demand' matching tool to stimulate and support the market for reused structural steelwork in the UK. This requires a transition to an integrated supply chain which facilitates the reuse of steel, moving away from the current dominant practice of using new steel.
In order to grow and maintain this new market capacity, a key enabling activity needs to be undertaken - the improvement of information management throughout the supply chain, allowing supply and demand to be matched. The key long-term objective is to develop an on-line service which brings together and matches demand for structural steel (driven by the building designer on behalf of the client), with supply of deconstructed structural steel (from the demolition industry), allowing the reuse of structural steel to become common place.
This proposal will explore the need for, and feasibility of, such a service. The approach is innovative in that it will draw together stakeholders from across a diverse supply chain with the objective of sharing and coordinating information using on-line tools to facilitate growth in the reused structural steel market.
We began the RE-Fab project in 2013 as part of a TSB funded feasibility study. The “RE-Fab House”™ Project was a groundbreaking construction project which explored, developed and demonstrated new forms of construction allowing improved construction efficiencies, adaptation of buildings in use and the deconstruction and re-use of components at end of life.
The feasibility study for the RE-Fab House Project was completed in 2013 in collaboration with Ecobond (Cymru) Ltd, Bangor University Bio-Composite Centre, C-Tech Innovation Ltd and Cullinan Studio. The feasibility study can be seen here in addition, a short animation can be seen here.
In 2014, the ASBP continued to progress the RE-Fab project. We were delighted to again be working with Ecobond Cymru (Graham Hilton & Geraint Williams), Jon Baker from ES Global - experts in demountable structures and Sir Robert McAlpine, to create a framework for the development of Flexible Life Buildings (FLBs), underpinned by a series of design, build and operation principles that will facilitate building design for de-construction and re-use (DfDR).
ASBP convened a RE-Fab Technical Committee, which held its inaugural meeting on 18th September, 2014. The committee aims to:
- Define the protocols for adaptable and demountable, permanent quality buildings
- Identify and assess the products and components that deliver these buildings
- Measure the social, environmental and sustainability benefits
We are carrying out research into alternative building components that could be used in a FLB and are liasing with product manufacturers to develop RE-Fab compatible products.
The ASBP formally launched RE-Fab at Resource and Ecobuild, 3-5th March, 2015, where the ASBP and its RE-Fab partners held two fully attended seminars.
Download our RE-Fab flyer here.
The ASBP have been continuing their pioneering work on sequestered carbon in construction products. Research commissioned by the ASBP demonstrates that carbon locked up in natural products in buildings is a significant climate change mitigation opportunity – carbon capture and storage for free.
The timber industry is now starting to recognise carbon sequestration as a significant opportunity. Following discussions on the research commissioned by the ASBP, significant developments have taken place such as the announcement of Hackneys “Wood First” planning presumption and the announcement of support for additional research.
The ASBP have published a research paper, 'Carbon Sequestration By Buildings' which can be downloaded in full here.