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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S029273/1
Title: Multi-scale, circular economic potential of non-residential building stock
Principal Investigator: Densley Tingley, Dr D
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
BAM Cundall Expedition Engineering Ltd
Foster and Partners Hawkins\Brown Architects LLP London Waste and Recycling Board
University of Cambridge University of Leeds
Department: Civil and Structural Engineering
Organisation: University of Sheffield
Scheme: New Investigator Award
Starts: 01 July 2019 Ends: 30 June 2022 Value (£): 381,024
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Civil Engineering Materials Construction Ops & Management
Design Engineering Urban & Land Management
Waste Minimisation
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Construction Technical Consultancy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
06 Feb 2019 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 6 and 7 February 2019 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Reducing the demand for new materials and reducing embodied carbon will be one of the most significant challenges that the construction sector faces in the coming decades. The 20th century oversaw a 23-fold increase in accumulated resources extracted, including materials currently locked in buildings and infrastructure. This rate of consumption far exceeds the planet's capacity to regenerate, and has serious implications for global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Addressing this interlinked material demand and emissions problem requires a step-change in practice, and implementation of circular economic (CE) reduce-reuse-recycle strategies, where materials are highly valued and remain in use for as long as possible. However, detailed knowledge of material types and quantities that are locked in the building stock is lacking, making estimation of CE potential unfeasible. This project will develop a spatially multi-scale framework to assess CE potential in individual buildings, cities and countries.

Application of this new framework to non-residential construction in the UK will enable estimation of CE potential in the existing stock - at building, city and national level. The framework will utilise bottom-up material flow analysis to assess building level material intensity, embodied carbon and CE potential. This will be combined with remote sensing and satellite data to assess city level building stocks, with demand modelling applied to explore future material demand scenarios - considering different construction mixes and optimised CE potential. The embodied carbon implications of this material demand will also be forecast so it can be considered as part of UK decarbonisation pathways. This will be essential as the proportion of embodied carbon in the whole life carbon of the built environment is only increasing, and will continue to do so as the electricity grid is decarbonised and thus operational GHG emissions are minimised. This research will build the evidence base to demonstrate the role the circular economy can have in tackling these challenges in construction, and provide the knowledge required to facilitate shifts in policy and practice.

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Organisation Website: http://www.shef.ac.uk