Future houses to become material ‘banks,’ experts explain

(EurActiv, 28 Apr 2023) Europe’s efforts to adopt its construction and building sector and bring it more in line with climate and circular economy ambitions will entail a significant change in methodology instead of just using different materials than today.

Europe’s construction sector economy comes in at an annual turnover of almost €1 billion, but this comes at a price: Half of EU primary material use is done by the sector, and one-third of total waste comes out. Experts say this must change for the sector to become future-proof.

“The way we build absolutely has to change because we cannot continue to build for the landfill,” said Katharina Blümke, researcher at the Chair of Sustainable Construction at the KIT in Karlsruhe.

Because of the way construction works, added Elena Boerman, a fellow researcher on sustainable construction in Karlsruhe, “we have a building industry in which resources are brought in that end up coming out in the form of waste”.

Brussels is increasingly pushing to boost the circularity of the bloc’s economy, reducing waste and boosting Europe’s sustainability.

“We will no longer be able to afford to waste so many resources,” noted Blümke, adding that materials like zinc and copper are becoming scarce. And the “planetary boundaries” are also “felt in sand mining.” Sand is a crucial ingredient in concrete production, among other things.

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EurActiv, 28 Apr 2023: Future houses to become material ‘banks,’ experts explain