A sustainable future demands that we change the way we build. H2020 DRIVE 0 research project looks at how circular renovations can make a contribution to this. A mock-up of a circular prefab facade opened at Brightlands Chemelot Campus on Thursday, September 13 2022. This mock-up is an essential part of innovation. “The theoretical is converted to practical and teaches us a lot about how to move forward, how to arrive at products that can actually be marketed,” says John van Oorschot of Zuyd University of Applied Sciences and one of the initiators of the DRIVE 0 project.
The built environment accounts for 40% of energy use in the European Union, and 25 – 30% of the waste streams generated are from construction and demolition. “Given the current climate crisis, this simply has to change. This requires taking a completely new look at building and how to deal with the existing housing stock. Circular renovation can make a significant contribution to these efforts. Renovation will have to occur faster in order to achieve the climate goals. Therefore the DRIVE 0 project doesn’t only focus on the technical aspects, but also on the transformation of the market,” Van Oorschot says.
“Using the mock-up we recently set up at Brightlands Chemelot Campus, we can test how the developed materials actually work. The circular design is still theoretical for now, and some things will always deviate in practice from what they are on paper. This is why it’s so important to make mock-ups like this, to learn from them together. The facade is divided up into three parts with different layers, each with its own specific properties. One is more circular than the other, and they will react differently to different circumstances. It’s also good for housing associations to see what the different variants look like,” says Van Oorschot.
“This is where we find out if what we had in mind really works. A mock-up gives you the chance to learn without consequences, making it an essential step before embarking on a pilot in an actual residential area. We will apply the facades for the first time here, and also see how dismantling goes, for example. We can improve the design on this basis to ensure that the materials can be reused multiple times,” says Ana Tisov from Huygen, Project Coordinator of Drive 0.
Why did they decide to set up the mock-up at Brightlands Chemelot Campus? “You can look at this mock-up as a laboratory facility. The facade is equipped with sensors so we can test it for a variety of parameters. We do this by exposing the facade to extreme conditions, making the campus an ideal location for this,” Van Oorschot explains.
In terms of technology, it’s not that difficult, Van Oorschot and Tisov argue. The real challenge lies in aligning the production process, and managing the supply chain and laws and regulations. “Technically, circularity is possible, but the implementation of this type of innovation demands new business models, new value chains. There are simply too many risks right now for manufacturers to dive right in,” Tisov believes. “During mock-ups and demos like this, we discover the barriers that still need to be overcome in order to roll out this kind of renovation on a large scale. This is why one of our goals is to share the lessons we have learned, including in this area. We want to get the discussion going on the regulations necessary for implementation. There are still so many challenges and uncertainties right now. Price, time and perception are the biggest problems we are currently facing, so it’s important to work with all of the stakeholders, understand the barriers, and then break through them,” van Oorschot concludes.
To know more about the mock-up, watch the videos above.
Original text: Brightlands Chemelot Campus website.