Resources & circularity
4 min

Reduced use of non-renewable resources



To reduce the use of non-renewable resources, we need to look over material flows over the lifetime of a building and to develop new approaches to building design. 

Did you know?


Share of the construction sector in worldwide raw material consumption


Share of the construction sector in worldwide solid waste streams


Should the construction sector turn to circular economy? 

  • Construction sector: key contributor to resource consumption and waste generation. Extraction of non-metallic minerals (sand, gravel, clay) at an unprecedented rate since 1980

  • Need to move from linear to circular economy, where waste becomes a resource and fewer virgin materials are needed

Global material extraction, four main material categories, 1970-2017, million tons (UNEP, Global Resources Outlook 2019)


What is resource-efficient construction?

  • A systemic approach to sustainable construction, looking at the big picture to ensure better use of resources over the lifetime of buildings

  • For new buildings: building with a more efficient use of resources, thanks to less resource-intensive materials, new technologies and new approaches to design

  • For renovation: using the existing building stock better, through renovation and urban mining, and seeing buildings as material banks

Circular economy

What is recycled content?

  • Internal recycled raw material: material recovered directly during the production process. This waste is reintroduced in the process and does not leave the plant. It is not considered recycling in the traditional sense and as defined by the norm ISO 14021–1999.

  • Secondary materials: materials recovered from previous use or from waste. They substitute primary materials and are used as an ingredient in another product (e.g. scrap metal, crushed concrete, glass cullet,  recycled wood chips, recycled plastic, etc.).
    This secondary material is differentiated depending on the phase when the recovery occurs:

    • Pre-consumer waste corresponds to a material that was discarded before it was ready for consumer use. The difference with “internal recycled raw material” is that it is not reused within the same plant but supplied externally.

    • Post-consumer waste corresponds to a material discarded after someone has used it, collected, sorted and transformed into secondary raw material

  • Recycled content: the proportion, by mass, of recycled material in a product or packaging. Only pre-consumer and post-consumer materials (i.e. secondary materials) shall be considered as recycled content. (ISO 14021)

  • Renewable content: material that is composed of biomass from a living source and that can be continually replenished. (ISO 14021)

  • Reusable: a characteristic of a product or packaging that has been conceived and designed to accomplish within its lifecycle a certain number of trips, rotations or uses for the same purpose for which it was conceived. (ISO 14021)

  • Recyclable: a characteristic of a product, packaging or associated component that can be diverted from the waste stream through available processes and programs and can be collected, processed and returned to use in the form of raw materials or products. (ISO 14021)

How to implement it in buildings?

  • Construction stages with the most potential impact to improve use of non-renewable resources:

    • design stage: chosing the adequate material & building techniques to reduce need for virgin materials and use the resources better

    • on jobsites: reducing and sorting waste, to enable reuse, recycling, and recovery of materials

  • In design, take into account that the material efficiency is different depending on the building structures. Ex: blocks of flats, terraces houses or detached houses don't have the same inherent material savings

  • Chose durable and reparable building components and systems

  • Optimize the use of fit-out materials

  • Integrate recycled materials

How do we act?

  • EPD & recycled content declaration

  • Bespoke & customized size delivery (Gypsum boards)

  • Offsite manufacturing

  • Bespoke or cut to length services

  • Recycling services (plasterboard, mineral wool, glass, ...)

  • Bulk delivery

  • Products with recycled content