The real estate sector has made a significant contribution to dealing with the impacts of climate change by introducing low-energy and efficiency-plus homes on the market. Nevertheless, current investigations show that we will need a second planet by 2050 in order to meet our needs for natural resources.  The world's increasing scarcity of raw materials and the rise in prices for the world's natural resources represents a rapidly growing risk for the industry. In future, optimizing the building envelope and building services engineering systems to ensure low heat transmission and high energy efficiency will simply not be sufficient. In fact, subsequent conversions or even the dismantling of the built fabric needs to be incorporated into the planning process today.

Primary approaches on dealing with this scarcity involve, on the one hand, ensuring a long duration of use or re-use of the building and on the other hand establishing the simplest possible methods for recycling materials already in use in order to stimulate the recycling loop. Building materials with high levels of substances that cause problems during dismantling or recycling ultimately lead to costs: these materials not only increase complications for the building ecologically but, so too, economically.

For a number of years now, not only have the “eco-effective” Cradle-to-Cradle principles ranked among key counter-strategies but, so too, designing for recycling: a principle which emphasizes practical effectiveness.  In addition, green building certification programs such as DGNB or LEED are increasingly picking up on the topic of dismantling and recycling. All in all, sustainable buildings represent a significantly lower risk for our resources.

The presentation will identify opportunities and risks and will present key strategies in dealing with building materials and building structures. The discussion on opportunities includes looking at the portion of valuable raw materials in buildings and the discussion on risks, the concentration of hazardous substances in building materials. This presentation takes examples from current projects and developments to illustrate how we can boost the potential for recycling and how we can plan effectively to ensure reduced costs for dismantling and disposal.