Do you want to create a better living environment, nowhere better than in construction
Problem solvers at your service
The construction sector is an important key player in the climate challenges we face. If we fully commit to the European green deal, not only will our homes become more energy efficient, we will also see a significant increase in renewable energy applications and create many new jobs in our sector. But also the efficient (re) use of materials and the focus on integral circular construction, are essential elements for the challenges that we want to tackle as a society in the coming decades. Each time with thousands of employees within the construction sector as problem solvers.
While we can still reduce 40% of the emission of greenhouse gases within the building park by energetic measures, thanks to circular principles in construction, we can reuse more than 60% of all the waste that we produce as a society. Construction has not been idle. For example, today we already recycle more than 90% of construction & demolition waste. This makes us one of the leaders in Europe in this segment. But there is still a lot of room for improvement towards high-quality recycling applications. To close the cycle further, thorough tracing and trust in construction waste as a raw material is crucial. Hundreds of thousands of construction professionals are working on this today. Do you want to create a better living environment, nowhere better than in construction.
Sustainable design, more reuse of materials, less need for primary raw materials and high-quality applications that can in time be fully reused. The construction sector is a trendsetter in Flanders and working hard to further expand the applications for construction waste. Not only by making selective demolition management an important spearhead and by continuing to focus on green deals with the Flemish government, but also by further digitization. Just think of the use of BIM - the building information model to build more sustainably and modularly with less waste - better building management, lower maintenance costs, etc. The maximum reuse of building materials and elements is also a priority for the sector to prevent waste and give valuable building elements a second life. It is important for demolition waste that hazardous substances such as asbestos do not end up in the cycle and are removed in a specialized manner. That is why the construction has put in place thorough quality control and tracking systems. Recycling requires a high degree of technical knowledge and requires a thorough organization to offer the necessary guarantees to the end customer and the environment. Furthermore, material identification will play an increasingly important role in the demolition process. More know-how and expertise of the people in the value chain and extensive digitization of the process offer relief. Think of centralizing databases, artificial intelligence, smart sensors, 3D scanning of buildings and the use of drones.
A good example of successful urban mining, which can also provide inspiration to other sectors within the chemical industry, is the recycling of PVC. Manufacturers are increasingly using this material as a raw material for new profiles for windows and doors, among other things. The volume of recycled PVC has now risen to thousands of tonnes per year. As a result, the demand for primary raw materials has been significantly reduced, resulting in a significant reduction in CO2 emissions. Moreover, urban mining can similarly boost the recycling of materials such as (flat) glass, metals, electronics, etc. New initiatives to recycle materials from the sector are now popping up everywhere. In addition, we see many projects to stimulate reuse in the sector. Elements that are increasingly being given a second life are, for example: bricks, roof tiles, modular wall elements, doors, lighting, sanitary facilities and floor coverings such as tiles, wood or carpet, ... New and sustainable raw materials from recycling processes are also coming from other sectors. Think of wood or saw waste, cotton clothing and grounded corks that serve as a raw material for insulation material.
This evolution is also unstoppable in making earthmoving more sustainable. Since last year, dredged materials from Flemish watercourses has also been traced to carefully guarantee quality when reused. Flanders has 10 million tons of dredged materials available annually. The construction uses more than 60% for high-value applications, such as foundation and stabilization layers. The sector is also exploring many new applications. The sand that is released during dredging works can be used as building material for dike construction. Dredged material can be used to reinforce water banks. There are tests to use the residue of sludge as a cement substitute, etc.
The construction sector is the center of the
circular economy. The sector plays a role throughout the material chain and has
a significant impact on the social, economic and environmental ambitions within
Europe. The sector is investing heavily in energy efficiency, renewable energy,
innovation in green technologies and digitization, as well as on knowledge and
education. Anyone who wants to tackle the climate challenges day in, day out
and want to focus on sustainability, will certainly find what they are looking
for in construction. The Flemish Construction Confederation has therefore
launched the #werfze campaign to highlight the crucial social role of the
sector. For example, you will find a lot about working on circular construction