BUILDING RESEARCH & INFORMATION (2008) 36(2), 175 –188

Designing with reused building components: some challenges
Mark Gorgolewski
Department of Architectural Science, Ryerson University, 350 Victoria Street,Toronto,Ontario M5B 2K3, Canada Email

What are the implications of component reuse strategies on the way buildings are designed and procured? Two building project case studies highlight the organizational and procedural problems for reusing components. Designers need additional information to design effectively with reclaimed components for new projects. They need to understand the risks, economics and implications to the programme. The design process needs to allow for more flexible design and specification. Additional skills are needed to source and evaluate components. Robust procurement contracts are needed to accommodate component dismantling and reuse. The impediments to the reuse of construction components are rarely technical or economic. Instead, they are mostly based on organizational, contractual and social structures. Keywords: adaptive reuse, component reuse, construction process, design process, design skills, reclaimed components Quelles sont les incidences des strate ´ gies de re ´ utilisation de composants sur la conception et l’approvisionnement des ba ˆ timents? Deux e ´ tudes de cas relatives a ` des projets de construction mettent en lumie ` re les proble ` mes d’organisation et de proce ´ dure relatifs a ` la re ´ utilisation de composants. Les architectes ont besoin d’informations comple ´ mentaires pour concevoir de manie ` re effective de nouveaux projets en utilisant des composants de re ´ emploi. Ils ont besoin de comprendre les risques, de connaı ˆtre les caracte ´ ristiques e ´ conomiques et les conse ´ quences pour les programmes. La proce ´ dure de conception doit pre ´ voir des spe ´ cifications et des concepts plus souples. Des compe ´ tences additionnelles sont ne ´ cessaires pour trouver et e ´ valuer des composants. Il faut des contrats d’approvisionnement bien structure ´s pre ´ voyant le de ´ montage et la re ´ utilisation de composants. Les obstacles a ` la re ´ utilisation de composants de construction sont rarement techniques ou e ´ conomiques. En revanche, ils sont, dans leur majeure partie, base ´ s sur des structures organisationnelles, contractuelles et sociales. Mots cle ´ s: re ´ utilisation adaptative, re ´ utilisation de composants, processus de construction, processus de conception, compe ´ tences de conception, composants de re ´ emploi

The ever-expanding economies and populations of the world are increasing demand for many construction materials and putting enormous pressure on natural resources. This is particularly relevant for major construction materials such as steel and cement, which are exchanged on world markets. In today’s global economic climate significant competitive advantages as well as strategic and environmental benefits can potentially be gained from the efficient use of resources. The way buildings are designed and constructed leads to huge volumes of waste being generated as well as

the use of large volumes of primary materials, which are extracted with considerable environmental damage. How can buildings be designed that avoid waste being generated in the process of construction and demolition? How can buildings be built using waste products from construction or other industries? Are there opportunities for establishing closed loops for the flow of materials and components? Existing buildings are huge reservoirs of materials and components that can potentially be mined to provide much needed resources (Kohler and Hassler, 2002). They are combined in various, ever more complex

Building Research & Information ISSN 0961-3218 print ⁄ISSN 1466-4321 online # 2008 Taylor & Francis http: ⁄ ⁄ ⁄journals DOI: 10.1080/09613210701559499

and the implications for the client in terms of process. Kernan (2002) and Morgan and Stevenson (2005) illustrate the increased interest from local government in North America and Europe for the potential for building material reuse to address waste minimization. technology advances. which often make their assembly and disassembly difficult to achieve. Waste is becoming regarded as a lost resource and a loss of potential profit. designing with reused components presents other sets of problems for the design team which have not been widely explored and which are considered in this paper. 308. and as material costs increase to reflect the true environmental cost of their supply industry.. time. US Green Building Council (USGBC). The two case studies presented herein form part of a group of eight projects featuring reused components that were either observed during construction by independent researchers. p. and sports facilities (tents and air-supported 176 . and the reuse of components and material recycling. structures) are designed as temporary buildings with a view to relocation. interviews with key members. In California the Integrated Waste Management Board has produced various publications related to construction material reuse and recycling in support of the state’s 50% waste diversion goal. Information about the issues that the design team had to address when reusing components was identified through site observations during or in some cases after construction. the design process. The paper is based on a project called Facilitating Greater Reuse and Recycling of Structural Steel in the Construction and Demolition Process (Gorgolewski et al.. p. Objectives and methods This paper is based on work carried out to examine the opportunities for building component reuse in Canada. 1999). As environmental concerns are becoming more prominent in the decisionmaking process. or data were collected after construction. the established design and construction processes make reuse more difficult to integrate since they rely on readily available standard materials. which aimed to develop a greater understanding of the materials flows in the steel construction industry and use this knowledge to provide tools that facilitate greater reuse and recycling of steel components. transportation. They have existed for many years and were much more widely practised in the pre-industrial era (Talbot. difficulties with waste disposal and limitations on land filling have stimulated interest in the potential economic benefits of alternatives. 2006). The widespread adoption of the green building rating systems such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED1. and the disposability of components. However. This is due to the low cost of construction materials and the high cost of labour required for the dismantling process which have made the economics or reuse uncompetitive in many cases. This has driven considerable interest and research into issues of deconstruction. design for deconstruction. The information was used to identify key lessons that are of relevance to design teams and clients wishing to adopt a strategy of maximizing component reuse. In particular. at the Vancouver Expo 86 many of the smaller pavilions used standardized modules with the intention to resell the structural components for reuse throughout the province after the event for tourism and other provincial needs. many structures such as travelling exhibitions. They estimate that construction and demolition materials account for almost 22% of the waste stream and have introduced mixed construction and demolition recycling facilities that are routinely recovering 60– 90% of all the materials brought to them. codes and fashions. In addition. Lessons from these buildings suggest that maximum flexibility and adaptability are needed if they are to be successfully reused. there is increasing recognition that a building at the end of its life is an asset to be valued and that the use of recycled materials and reused components extracted from an old building can potential lead to a reduction in waste that needs to be disposed of. and deconstruction process are all important. However. most of the existing building stock was not designed for relocation or dismantling. 355). Their A Technical Manual for Material Choices in Sustainable Construction Background Materials recovery and component reuse are not new concepts. Also. Researchers were not directly involved in the projects.Gorgolewski ways. expos. metal reuse and recycling has existed as long as the use of metal itself (Strausser. Materials recovery activities have fluctuated over time depending on changes in the economy. 2002) has had a considerable impact on the industry in North America and has increased interest in reuse and recycling in construction. trends towards convenience. Currently. For example. 1920. Issues such as different environmental loadings. the dismantling and reuse of components is attracting more interest. 2006). as well as a reduction in primary resources used and savings in greenhouse gas emissions (Gorgolewski et al. However. Strausser. Other temporary structures are taken down and the material reused in more permanent buildings. Processes that add value to waste materials can lead to significant financial benefits. 1999. The aim is to highlight the implications of a component reuse strategy particularly on the design and procurement process of a building and to develop a greater appreciation of how such a strategy will impact on the design team. trade fairs. and a review of relevant documents. and risk.

the analysis demonstrates that there are strong environmental and economic benefits that favour a shift away from the recycling of steel as a material to reuse of steel components. Geyer et al. Based on this analysis they conclude that the dismantling of selected construction elements combined with adequate recycling options is a promising. recycling and reuse of demolition waste including a techno-economical assessment of recycling options for the various fractions of materials. The results emphasize how limiting factors such as market demand. the designer’s role in the process is important to ensure this does not create bottlenecks. If the 25.Designing with reused building components: some challenges (Integrated Waste Management Board (IWMB). Ultimately. From an economic point of view. and use a cost-optimized concept for minimization. from the Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR. the ILSR estimates that on a per ton basis. The USEPA undertook a study to calculate the energy benefits of improved material management throughout a material’s life cycle. Another study from the CCE by Kibert et al. time and economic constrains. the research also indicates that bottlenecks such as a limited supply of reused components due to limited deconstruction. and aesthetics needs to be accounted for when considering and comparing the cost of salvaged and new materials. and public policy as relevant to the successful implementation of deconstruction and reuse 177 . The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has developed a method to quantify the energy benefits of improved materials management and found that recycling and source reduction conserve large amounts of energy leading to significant savings in greenhouse gas emissions (Ferland. and points out that an assessment of the material’s structural quality. Over 500 pieces of salvaged lumber were graded visually to understand the damage resulting from use and the deconstruction process on salvaged lumber and the potential reuse for structural applications. reuse operations generate nine times more jobs than traditional recycling and 38 times more than land-filling and incineration. Reuse and materials redistribution included on. existing markets. Similarly. 1998). Thus. Based on these. 2006). 2002). a report. 2000) outlines the opportunities for reuse in construction. product innovation and depreciation can dominate the system performance.and two-story houses representing typical Southeastern US wood-framed residential construction were deconstructed to examine the cost-effectiveness of deconstruction and salvage when compared with traditional demolition (Guy and McLendon. the net cost of deconstruction after factoring in the revenue from sales was 37% lower than demolition. a lack of technical feasibility to reuse. reuse materials markings. material grading systems. profiled nine private and four government reuse operations (Block and Wood. and lists potential components that can be successfully reused. Raess et al. and land-filling. A Canadian study with similar conclusions has also been published (ICF Consulting. contractual agreements. (2000) analysed the feasibility of replacing demolition and traditional disposal of materials with deconstruction and reuse. cost-competitive approach to fulfil various legislative requirements in Germany and France that aim to prevent (where possible) and recover waste in the construction sector.5 million tons of durable goods disposed of annually in the US were reclaimed by reuse operations. hazardous materials. These vary depending on the material and are driven largely by the difference between manufacturing the material using virgin inputs and manufacturing the material using recycled inputs. However. An uncoordinated supply chain could lead to higher costs and environmental impacts. There is also considerable interest in the potential for savings in greenhouse gas emissions from materials recycling and reuse strategies. The Center for Construction and Environment (CCE) at the University of Florida has worked closely with industry on a variety of deconstruction and reuse projects. It identified a series of factors including labour costs. 1998). 2005). Although the cost of the deconstruction process was on average 21% higher than demolition. Mincks (1995) suggests a formula to determine and compare the cost of new and used building materials. tipping fees. or limited market demand can invert the situation. The study also demonstrates that source reduction efforts resulting from reuse can reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared with recycling by over 60% for materials such as steel and glass. recycling. This indicates that deconstruction may cost 30 –50% less than straight demolition due to lower machinery and disposal costs. combustion. The study shows that energy savings are generated for all the materials studied when they are recycled. Six one. The study concluded that deconstruction can be more cost-effective than demolition when considering the reduction in landfill disposal costs and the revenues from salvage. The Deconstruction Training Manual (IWMB. (2002) show examples of deconstruction projects in Germany and France. The study developed net energy factors for a selection of materials analysed for four waste management options: source reduction.and off-site redistribution. 2001) aims to grow a viable industry and reduce the amount of construction and demolition debris that makes its way into California’s waste stream. durability. more than 220 000 new jobs could potentially be created in this industry alone. (2002) developed a life cycle analytical model to investigate the comparative benefits of steel recycling and reuse. the report states. Creating Wealth from Everyday Items.

and the availability of reused component. reclad and reused for a new use as a car sales centre common with heritage structures as they are seen to have cultural value. without disturbing the adjacent finishes. It is also possible for many existing buildings where it may be appropriate to strip the building to its bare structure to improve thermal performance. Reuse an existing structure on the site and possibly add to it or extend it (Figure 1). The aim was to provide designers with more information on design for disassembly and develop a tool for the assessment of the building elements that focuses on selection for the different building layers/components. were also highlighted by the cases studies reported in this paper. Windows are designed so they can be replaced by simply removing the wood trim.d. Reuse of components or whole buildings generally requires less reprocessing. Strategies include segregating utilities from wood framing to allow for easier disassembly and to reduce holes in the framing. or non-structural components such as cladding panels. time and economic constraints. Relocation sometimes occurs for pre-engineered buildings such as industrial buildings and warehouses. Environmental bene¢ts of reuse Reuse There are three ways of reusing previously used components in a project: . Structural components such as beams. California. often called ‘adaptive reuse’. Guy et al. 2001. Much of the work reviewed above focuses on what types of materials can be reused. including contractual issues. This work includes a proposal to use a life cycle assessment methodology to identify the overall benefit of different approaches. In recent years a considerable amount of interest has been generated in the concept of DfD with many studies and papers (Crowther. The ease of deconstruction is affected by the building systems and technologies used. . Further improvements can be achieved by considering future demolition and disassembly of building elements at the planning stage of new buildings. and the technical issues of deconstruction and reuse. This paper considers how the design process may have to change when using of reclaimed components. This approach. The Canadian Standards Institute has been developing a Draft CSA guideline on design for disassembly and adaptability in the built environment (Canadian Standards Association (CSA). the wood siding is fastened with clips screwed into the backing for ease of disassembly. and occasionally for other building types. Several of these factors. n. is now relatively From an environmental and economic point of view. the reuse of buildings or reclaimed components is usually regarded as more beneficial than the recycling of materials. bricks or staircases are taken from one project and used in another (see the case studies below). Similarly. and their impact on the design process are discussed below. This is not yet common other than for heritage components. 2004). The appropriate use of technologies and their successful integration into the design process will facilitate an increased reuse of structural components. Adaptive reuse normally implies a change of function resulting from building obsolescence. and the availability of relevant documentation and information. (2002) explore strategies and details for Design for Disassembly at the Chartwell School in Seaside. Component reuse is not usually possible for materials such as in-situ poured concrete which are destroyed 178 . Move most or all of an existing building to a new location (Figure 2). This form of reuse is sometimes called ‘component reuse’.Gorgolewski practices. so greater environmental benefits often result compared with recycling. Design for Deconstruction or Disassembly (DfD) (used interchangeably) integrates waste prevention into the design process. Reuse individual components extracted from the demolition of one project in a new building (Figure 3). There is little research about the implications of component reuse on the design process.). Figure 1 ‘Adaptive reuse’: this old building industrial structure was adapted. columns. thereby increasing future salvage value. Temporary buildings offer lessons about how to design to allow for future relocation. Significant financial savings are also possible. . It helps to consider at the design stage how a building will be deconstructed to make it more feasible that components are reused. Deconstruction Institute.

less money will be spent on new materials or landfill. there is no clear distinction between the recycled material and the virgin material. p. (Catalli and Williams. but is more realistic for many engineered components that can be deconstructed undamaged. waste paper into cellulose insulation). and this can affect the whole design and construction process: reclaimed materials do not show up at the right time. Therefore. the construction components are specified and sized to suit the spanning requirements of the architect’s proposals. Potentially. Recycling generally involves a used material being fed back into the manufacturing process either of the same material (e. The barriers resulting from organizational and economic conditions and a lack of clear information and guidance for designers about the design and procurement procedures to adopt . However. making designing for disassembly a more economical venture. This is because reclaimed components are often not readily available from stock and their specifications may not be clear. renovation and demolition are heavily geared towards the fastest. such as for many metals. when viewed in isolation. However. 2006). Designers can then assess the specifications of these ‘recycled’ materials and make informed choices to replace virgin materials with others that are made partly or entirely from recycled materials.Designing with reused building components: some challenges Figure 2 This school building was relocated from northern British Columbia to Vancouver largely intact Figure 3 ‘Component reuse’: these open-web steel joists were taken from an old building for use in a new project during the demolition process (and can be crushed for use as aggregate – down-cycling). In some cases. 2000.g. p. 2) One of the principal problems with reuse is to coordinate demand with supply.g. With a traditional approach to design. when reusing components and how to best integrate them into new projects are considered below and in the case studies. reused 179 Designing with reclaimed components Nevertheless. easiest and most economical way to get the job done. the reuse of reclaimed components often requires a change in approach and process. steel) or of a different material (e. in the right amount or the right dimension. the incremental cost will be diminished or even eliminated when practices become more standardized and when the cost savings in terms of recycling and reuse as well as the environment are factored into the overall equation. The USEPA study referred to above showed that waste reduction efforts resulting from the reuse of components can generate energy and greenhouse gas emissions savings of over 60% greater than recycling (Ferland.g. can seem costly and laborious compared to the norm. usually using ‘off-the-shelf’ (e. Industry scepticism and tradition have been identified as standing in the way of change: Standard practices for construction. (Chapman and Simmonds. 2001. In contrast. Many industries are trying to increase the recycled content of the materials they produce. the reuse of components reclaimed from demolition usually requires the designers to be far more flexible and willing to adapt their normal processes. Designing and constructing for disassembly. 27) Designers who have attempted to integrate reclaimed components in the design of permanent buildings say that: using reclaimed materials adds a whole new level of complexity to the project. standard) sizes. the reuse of building components has greater implications on the building design process than using recycled materials.

There may also be a further need for testing to ascertain the structural qualities of the components involved to minimize additional professional risk for the design team. and that these are purchased or reserved to prevent the salvage contractor from selling them elsewhere since they are unlikely to guarantee the availability of specific materials or products for the duration of the design and tender period that may last years. The wall cladding consists of 240 mm thick engineered wood ‘I’-joists clad with locally salvaged plywood sheathing with recycled cellulose insulation (U ¼ 0. In some cases these can be offset against reduced materials costs. day lighting systems. thus maximizing structural efficiency from the available components (see The Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) case study below). locate. When proceeding to construction. Engineers and architects can benefit from developing working relationships with demolition and salvage contractors to increase their awareness of available reclaimed materials. If the pre-purchase of components is not possible. this will involve the design team in considerable additional research at the front end of the project to identify. In both projects an old building on the site became the source of many components that were used in the new design. Case studies Two Canadian projects are briefly presented that feature the use of reclaimed components. and rock excavated from the site. Also. MEC is a particularly strong believer in reusing materials in construction. and reclaimed components feature in several recently completed MEC stores. fibre cement boards in areas where vines are to grow. This requires appropriate contractual procedures to be used as the final materials may not be specified at the time of tendering. radiant flooring. Rather. 2600 m2 retail facility located on a shopping street close to downtown. The new MEC store in Ottawa (Figure 4) is a twostorey. but this will vary from case to case. the required size or type of component may not be readily available.14 W/m2K. An alternative approach would be to identify and purchase a suitable building already condemned for 180 demolition that contains suitable components. For structural design the size and length of the available members will then determine the spans and spacing possible in the new structure. Various materials were used for cladding for aesthetic reasons. This requires that the available components are identified early in the design process.Gorgolewski components do not generally come off the shelf.18 W/m2K). Furthermore. which was completed in June 2000. so alternative options can be used and the design adjusted to suit depending on component availability later in the process. Some of the features found in their recently constructed buildings include green roofs. from Vancouver to Halifax. composting toilets. it is essential to provide flexibility in the design. It operates retail facilities in ten locations across Canada. efficient heating and cooling techniques. particularly in the choice of structural components. and other energy-saving measures. and reuse as many components as possible in the new project. This may necessitate a redesign to suit the available reclaimed components or choosing whichever oversized components are readily available. as was done in the MEC case study below. consultants are now offering their expertise to source reused components. Other goals related to the performance of the building were dictated by the design team’s aim to achieve a gold rating using an early version of the LEED green building rating system . This has severe cash flow implications and management consequences as the client may be required to dedicate resources to the purchase of components early in the design phase when a contractor has not yet been appointed. Performance targets for the building were set by the client (MEC) based on its research about green building and included reducing the environmental impact of building materials. The building consists of a heavy timber structure on the ground floor and a steel structure on the first floor with open-web steel joists supporting a screw-fastened steel deck roof with mineral wool insulation providing a U-value of 0. many of which address issues of sustainability in their building practices. thus improving their choices when such components are required and help to manage risk by benefiting from the expertise of the salvage industry. The MEC’s design philosophy focuses on creating the most environmentally and socially sensitive structures possible. they are identified on demolition sites by salvage contractors and may be difficult to source. including corrugated steel panels for durability. In future. The MEC prides itself on a reputation as a ‘green’ company and has set an example to other commercial retailers about how to integrate environmental considerations into their activities. which are unusual in retail buildings in North America. The Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) The MEC is a well-established retail company operating as a membership cooperative. Some companies in North America have identified this as a business opportunity and are now offering a deconstruction service and marketing an inventory of reused components. inspect and choose appropriate components. This may lead to additional cost in design and testing fees. supplying quality outdoor equipment in Canada for over 30 years. to maximize the potential for reuse. the starting point for a new design may be an inventory of the available materials from salvage. recycled or reused materials.

rather than new. The gridlines and column locations were sited to enable the existing foundations. They were used to label all the steel as it was dismantled. one-storey. the new building needed to be two storeys high to accommodate the spatial needs of the MEC. the original specifications and drawings for the existing structure were available to the design team and contractor. Figure 4 The Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC). This was followed by an on-site sale of materials not reused on-site. Seventy-five per cent of the weight of the structure and shell of this existing building. including the steel columns. These were chosen to create a timber-framed ground floor that satisfied aesthetic requirements. All the members were inspected for damage and assessed by the structural engineer to confirm their structural capacities. The selection of materials for the project was driven by the goal of using the maximum possible amount of reclaimed. and potentially leading to environmental and cost benefits. The original building was used to support a roof with a snow load typical for Ottawa. columns and beams to be reused. with low embodied energy and high reclaimed content. significantly reducing the need for new materials. Reusing structural components requires establishing with confidence their structural characteristics. were incorporated into the new building. The Figure 5 Materials storage at The Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) after deconstruction 181 . and. beams and open-web steel joists.Designing with reused building components: some challenges remaining materials and components from the existing building were sorted and. A primary decision was to reuse these structural components in the new building in such a way that they supported similar loads to their previous use. Process of reuse When the MEC acquired the site. and the existing concrete floor slab and terrazzo finish were retained. 1000 m2 former grocery store with steel columns. and the MEC has since applied a similar approach for several other buildings and shown that it is economically feasible and practically achievable. inspected. Since their loading was similar to the old building the structural engineers were able to demonstrate building code compliance. 2002). the required modifications could be made in the shop rather than at the site (Figure 5). materials. wherever practical. The new structure supporting the first-floor timber floor consists of large locally reclaimed Douglas fir columns and beams. In this case. sent for reuse at other local sites or for recycling. An open house was held where demolition contractors and other end-market users were invited to view materials in order to identify end-markets.Ottawa (USGBC. It was not possible to reuse the existing structure in place so it was carefully deconstructed in order to reuse the available components in the new building. so it was decided that the reclaimed steel should be used for the roof structure above a new first floor. it was occupied by a 40-year-old. These timber components had to be sized. in any case. The design team calculated that the building uses 56% of recycled or reused content by weight. The project is an example of how key structural components from an old building can be used to create a new energy-efficient building on the same site. but was not suitable for use to support a floor structure with a far higher (5 kPa) retail floor load. The components were labelled and mostly taken off-site as there was no room for stockpiling. The original one-storey steel frame was not damaged during dismantling although some of the existing open-web steel joists were distorted and the original profiled steel roof deck was welded so its removal led to damage beyond repair and it had to be sent for recycling as raw steel. However. beams and most of the open-web steel joists. The challenge posed by the site and existing structure was how to integrate the components of the existing building functionally and efficiently into a new twostorey building the best to serve its particular purpose.

Since the structural spans chosen for the new building were based on the spans used in the old building. some of the extra costs incurred by the design team to develop a sustainable specification were covered. so this bid was accepted. the building was designed using the C2000 integrated design team process which requires the team to work closely together throughout the project. wall displays. but in more recent times the buildings served as storage space. Economic discussion 2600 m2. an open house was held where materials were viewed before tender.Gorgolewski and graded to fit with the steel structure used on the second floor. It had previously been used for a variety of heavy industries including a foundry. Much of this is due to the increased thermal and environmental standards and not due to the material reuse. including consultant fees. which accounted for 10% of the construction costs for a gross floor area of just over 740 rue Bel-Air The new government building at 740 rue Bel-Air in the revitalized west end of Montreal is another example of how the deconstruction of an old building can provide construction resources for a new project at the same location. Fortunately. iron and steel dating from 1851. salvaged wood was used for sun shades and other details Roof Wall Floor Other 182 . came from reused or recycled sources Element Substructure Reused from existing building on-site Existing foundations were reused by using the same structural grid. which may have saved money overall. The MEC had expected additional costs of about 10% to achieve its strict environmental criteria and energy efficiency. the load requirements for the new roof were virtually unchanged. All the main elements of the primary structure including steel and heavy timber columns and beams and 50% of the open-web steel roof joists in the new building were reused components. blocks from the original building were used to create a two-hour ¢re-rated party wall on the east side of the building Existing £oor slab with terrazzo £oor was used for the new building Reused from other locations Primary structure 300 mm square Douglas ¢r structural components salvaged from old log booms from the St Lawrence River were used in the ground £oor structure Salvaged plywood was speci¢ed for external sheathing of walls. The site consisted of a series of industrial buildings mainly using brick. An old drawing from a newspaper indicates that the building was the first in Montreal to use saw-tooth northfacing lighting in the roof. To assist the tendering contractors.9 million. and reduce environmental impact. and to use a series of design charrettes. the lowest bidder on the project was also very keen to undertake the work and very much interested in the concept of reusing components. The specification of reused components required considerable additional effort from the design team. This building was designed under Canada’s C2000 programme. This provided financial support to offset the additional design costs (not capital costs) necessary to meet higher standards of energy efficiency. supplemented with new steel joists and a new deck. and a two-storey atrium space. There was some resistance from three of the four contractors bidding for the project because of the unfamiliar challenge of using reclaimed components and this was reflected in a natural inclination to bid higher.Ottawa. This structure created a two-storey form that provided a retail space for the building that could accommodate the interior climbing wall feature. but was not available at the time of construction Floor ¢nish for the second storey was a structural wood deck using salvaged Douglas ¢r Of¢ce and staff rooms were furnished with used or recovered furniture. concrete removed from the site was crushed and used as back¢ll. though joist spacing was tightened in some locations to accommodate roof projections and rooftop equipment. Thus. with various more recent additions. The total building and site development costs were approximately CA$2. which is about 13% above typical big box retail in Ottawa (CA$980/m2). Also. Any materials not reused or recycled in the new building were later sold at an on-site sale. Public Works and Government Table 1 Fifty-six per cent of materials by weight used at The Mountain Equipment Co-op. The costs are therefore just over CA$1100 per m2. slab underlay and parking lot ¢ll Primary steel structure from the original building was reused on the second level of the new building Open-web steel joists from the original building were reused in the new roof structure Rock salvaged from the site was used for cladding on the north face.

either onsite in the new building or elsewhere. steel cladding. A contractor specializing in deconstruction (as opposed to demolition) was hired to take down the existing building and find ways of reusing as many components as possible and recycling the rest of the material. office space. and electrical and mechanical equipment such as elevator components could be reused. It proposed a facility to house various government departments including warehousing. To conserve water. The combined effect of these strategies is expected to help achieve a gold LEED green building rating. a considerable amount of steel cladding. rain is collected for use in toilets and to water the grounds. timber. Materials from the old buildings reused in the new project include steel joists. In addition. A materials audit was carried out. other projects around Montreal or was sent for recycling. tracing which materials were available and where they were disposed of. who owned the site. and then inspected the materials and components available from the deconstruction of the existing building to identify components that could potentially be used in the new building (Figure 8). to oversee the deconstruction process and identify materials that could be reused. and other specialized uses. In such a situation old drawings of the existing structure can save time and facilitate the process. it is estimated that the project was able to divert about 9000 m3 of building materials from landfill for reuse or recycling. December 2002 183 . and new materials were carefully screened and selected for their environmental impact. with brick and metal cladding and a flat roof (Figure 6). or recycled. This meant that the designs had to be based on estimates and the architects tried to maintain as much flexibility in the design to accommodate a range of sizes.Designing with reused building components: some challenges Services Canada (PWGSC). The dimensions of the components that could be reused were not available to the design team when the critical structural spacing decisions were being made. A geothermal heating and cooling system is used with some supplementary solar power. and other steel sections were suitable for recycling. storage space. wanted to use the project to showcase a range of green strategies. This indicated that approximately 325 open-web steel roof joists were identified as suitable for reuse in the new building. Other materials such as wiring. and heating and lighting systems. where possible (Figure 7). wood beams. sharing facilities such as meeting rooms. a Montreal architectural practice. although 15% of these were damaged in the process of deconstruction or during storage due to their lightweight characteristics. as well as increasing reuse opportunities. The availability of information at the appropriate time in the design process was found to be crucial. bricks. Many of the original building components and materials were reclaimed and reused (in this and other projects). In total. The design also focuses on daylighting and natural ventilation to reduce electricity consumption and improve personal comfort. and 8000 tonnes of concrete were crushed to use as fill during the shoring process or for site engineering works. In this case the architects found relevant information which initially was thought to have been lost at the Public Works Figure 6 740 rue Bel-Air Figure 7 Deconstruction process at 740 rue Bel-Air. including the reuse of the buildings or components and recycling of materials that were already on-site. Design process Deconstruction process The client appointed AEdifica. The new 15 700 m2 building (with additional below-ground parking) has a mixture of concrete and steel structure. Most of the material was reused off-site in The architects developed initial conceptual ideas for redeveloping the site. pipes. The designs were then revised to suit the available reclaimed materials. This complicated the process. allowing the tenants to benefit from the economies of scale and reducing the need for building space. brick. and crushed concrete as fill.

the deconstruction process caused damage to about 15% of the steel joists which made them unsuitable for reuse. However. Eventually. There was also a shortage of suitable space on-site for storage during construction. the remainder were sold for local reuse or recycling Steel cladding from the old building was used as cladding for internal ¢nishes of warehouse spaces. was appropriate for internal wall surfaces. although deemed unsuitable for use externally due to concerns about moisture absorption. 65 were reused on-site in the roof structure. but will have a payback period of about eight years. AEdifica estimates that the overall cost of the deconstruction process was no higher than the cost of traditional demolition when the revenue resulting from the reused materials is considered. and refabricated appropriately and location to minimize multiple handling and damage. but these were recouped through the resale of the extracted components and materials. Ultimately. the entrance hall retained the facade of the former steel foundry Incidental salvaged timber was used wherever appropriate. The deconstruction process requires more time to deal with the materials carefully. Also. some 65 joists were reused. provided they were used at closer centres than modern joists. and which helped them to identify the structural characteristics of components. and this must be included in any overall project programme. The precise cost implications or reusing materials are unknown. These issues arose due to the piecemeal nature of the project with the division of contractual phases over a long period of time and the lack of overall control by one contractor. This multiple handling and the time delay between deconstruction and reuse (over two years) led to further damage and resulted in additional costs. but the structural engineer for the project felt that the reuse of openweb steel joists was not a cost saving as the additional refabrication.Gorgolewski trimming of damaged areas and repainting before installation in the new building. with the remainder being disposed of for other reuse projects or for steel recycling. storage and handling charges were greater than the cost of new joists. In this large project there were also additional fees for designers to identify reusable components. It is estimated that the additional environmental features cost about CA$2 million extra. Initially. Construction process The project was divided into three contractual phases: deconstruction. at a cost of approximately CA$20 000. stored. the issue of timing is critical. This was necessary as it was found that there was some variation in their length. to establish their structural integrity and suitability. It is clear that to minimize problems a clear chain of responsibility should be established and careful planning is required to ensure that materials are processed. 100 joists were put aside for use on this project. Unfortunately. Nevertheless. Economic discussion Figure 8 Reused open-web steel joists at 740 rue Bel-Air Canada archive. The steel cladding required 184 The construction cost of the new building was approximately CA$34 million for a 15 700 m2 building and additional car parking. and new construction. X-ray imaging and chemical analysis had to be carried out of the open-web steel joists. the open-web steel joists were sent to a steel fabricator for sorting and minor refabrication. site remediation including shoring and other ground works. This showed they were suitable for the new building. This led to some coordination problems such as contractors not accepting responsibility for dealing appropriately with the materials that were to be reused. The joists were also cleaned and repainted before installation on-site. there were still problems that required adjustment of the joist seats on-site. some electrical and mechanical equipment such as elevator components were reused Cladding Other . deconstruction requires Table 2 The following materials from the demolished building at 740 rue Bel-Air were reused on-site in the new building Element Groundwork Structure Reused component 8000 tonnes of crushed concrete were used as ¢ll in engineering works 325 open-web steel joists were identi¢ed in the old building. This caused the materials to be moved several times around the site from one external storage area to another and eventually to be placed in a storage yard off-site. Although some were adapted in length in the workshop. old brick.

using similar structural layouts and maintaining original span sizes in the new design makes reuse easier. When incorporating structural components from an existing building in a new project. At 740 rue Bel-Air it was necessary to establish structural integrity and suitability of the openweb steel joists using X-ray imaging and chemical analysis. but must be integrated carefully into any overall project programme. this means that materials may need to be purchased and stored early in the design process before a contractor is appointed. . or reuse components from an existing building on the site as the issues of timing and security of supply are reduced. saved time and facilitated the design process. Nevertheless. which include the following: . and cost constraints. There may also be higher design fees due to additional work in sourcing the reused components. preferably on-site before they are sold. elsewhere before new uses are found for them. A strategy to reuse materials may require considerable flexibility from the design team and a willingness to adapt the design as materials become available. Hot-rolled structural steel with bolted connections and large timber components are easier to reuse than more lightweight open-web steel joists or timber studs. Structural component reuse is easier if components can be reused for a purpose similar to their original one. The MEC was able to reuse even the foundations by basing the design around the spans of the original structural components. helped establish the structural characteristics of the material. . but this may require sufficient space on-site for storage in out-of-the-way locations. Using reclaimed materials adds a new level of complexity to a project and significantly changes the design and construction process. and reclaimed materials and components are identified early on so they can be designed in. In both case studies the original drawings and specifications were available that increased reuse opportunities. . Clearly this has significant implications on design fees. Reclaimed materials do not show up at the right time. . It is beneficial if decisions on using reclaimed materials are made early in the design process. permanent fixings such as welding can make deconstruction difficult and components are more easily damaged. However. in the right amounts or at the right dimensions. ideally onsite. Establishing structural characteristics is a concern to design teams. Nevertheless. Lessons learned The two projects illustrate how a determined client and inspired design team can adapt the procurement process so that it is possible to incorporate significant quantities of reclaimed construction components into a new building. One way to identify potential components for reuse early on is to purchase a whole old building and reuse its components. and a professional . It is most economic to avoid multiple handling. this can lead to problems of storage of materials during the construction process. Accurate information about the sizes of available reclaimed components in the early stages of design helps to facilitate appropriate design decisions. Both case study projects demonstrate that reclaimed materials can be put to a new use and be economically viable. or. wood grader was hired to examine and grade the salvaged timbers. and requires careful planning. However. the reclaimed plywood specified for the MEC was not available at the time of construction. . as the lightweight nature of these makes them more susceptible to damage. Using materials and components that are available from an old building on-site eliminates some of the unknowns and allows the design team to develop a design around the available components. For example. if necessary. Deconstructing rather than demolishing a building can be economically viable for the client but requires more time to deal with the materials carefully and space for storage of materials. the projects also highlight the challenges inherent in such an approach to building. In the MEC some elements of the steel roof and timber floor systems were redesigned three times to accommodate the available materials and the 740 rue Bel-Air design was adapted several times to suit the particular specifications of the steel joists. The nature of junctions is important to the practicality of deconstruction. causing additional costs. The structural engineer and steel sub-trade had to assess the old steel for any damage and for conformity to current code standards. Reversible joints such as screws and bolts are desirable. . which may cause difficulties for the client and the contractual process. and additional costs can be minimized. distance.Designing with reused building components: some challenges space for storage of the reclaimed materials. working within time. Decking spot-welded at the MEC made removal 185 . and the higher value of the larger elements make the effort to salvage more cost-effective. In some cases materials may need to be purchased early when they are available and stored. at the MEC structural tests were performed on the old concrete blocks. The availability of information at the appropriate time in the design process is important.

and some old timber is of a higher quality than new timber that has been plantation grown. but this will not be the case in most projects. a steel beam can be expected to perform equally well even if it has been used before. It is also true that many old components may be equally as good. This may be the most effective way to address some of the difficulties of component reuse. In both case studies the client was committed to a strategy of materials conservation and reuse. Reclaimed components are not currently easily available off the shelf in quantities and a range of specifications that designers expect. Some contractors may be nervous about tendering for unusual projects of this kind. which many clients will not be willing to do. Some designers have been able to manage the risks and the additional time required by getting a strong commitment from their clients or by passing the risk to specialist companies. When this is combined with a lack of clear information and guidance for designers and owners about the implications of specifying reclaimed components and recycled materials. But the industry can help by developing codes and standards that identify accepted procedures and good practice for component reuse which will provide reassurance for clients and designers. than new versions. In many cases standard specifications prevent or inhibit the use of reused components for 186 . To overcome this problem a management contractor can be appointed at an early stage in the design process who is responsible for securing reclaimed components that are identified for the project. Reusing materials is very site-specific and timedependent. it creates barriers to a more ecologically sound use of resources. These need to be understood by the design team and client so that appropriate strategies are put into place. and what new/other skills/training do architects and engineers need? A key issue for designers is the increased risk involved. In the case studies reported in this paper the client was willing to take on this risk for ideological reasons. . space constraints. A limited availability of such components makes it difficult for designers who wish to specify them. There is a lack of a coordinated supply chain that ensures a consistent supply. reasons of limiting liability. time constraints. The role of the client is crucial in any deconstruction and reuse strategy. Conclusions The case studies discussed above suggest that the reuse of components in buildings can contribute significantly to meeting environmental goals. at this stage the contractor is often not appointed yet. the requirement for reclaimed materials must be specified in a robust way or else the contractor may be unwilling to make the effort required and may well try to avoid this once the project is underway In some areas such as British Columbia. A management contractor may also be more willing to embrace the project aims of reusing materials than a traditionally tendered contractor. and have some control of their supply. Linked to risk is the issue of timing and availability. The industry needs to develop a level of comfort with the use of reused components and to established procedures for approval. but demolition rather than deconstruction is still generally the rule for perceived economic and programming reasons. An increase in deconstruction practices will improve the supply of reused components. If a conventional main contractor is used. Reversible jointing systems such as bolting was used in the new MEC building to facilitate future deconstruction. Currently. The location. or even better. But the reuse of materials in buildings is site-specific and timedependent. Using reclaimed components has significant implications on the ‘process’ of design as well as construction. What aspects of the design process need to change to accommodate component reuse. requiring acceptance that the design and construction process may need to change. Generally. . . To address this issue. Designers may perceive that they are taking additional risks by specifying components with less predictable characteristics. However. a few companies have identified reuse as a business opportunity and have started to assemble an inventory of reused components. Both were willing to adapt the procurement process to maximize the potential for materials reuse and accepted that there are some additional risk and more time is needed when reclaiming and reusing materials. and design requirements all have an impact on what may be feasible and realistic. In some cases designers have been able to identify specific components early on during the design process at demolition sites or reclamation yards. easiest and most economical way to get the job done. There is a need to educate contractors and work with them to ensure that full cost benefits can be realized. In this way they are assured of a known list of components to reuse early on in the design process.Gorgolewski without damage difficult and also led to some difficulties with the removal of the open-web steel joists. so the client has to spend money up front purchasing materials. some architects in Canada have identified specific buildings listed for demolition to use as a material and component source for their new product. standard construction and demolition practices focus on the fastest.

epa. 27–29. reused components can be more expensive if there is a need for multiple handling and refabrication. and Wood. In this way much of the steel required for shoring projects in Toronto is supplied from steel reclaimed from demolition projects. The problem of the limited supply of reused components due to limited deconstruction is slowly being addressed by the development of Standards for deconstruction and by the increased costs and difficulty of traditional methods of disposal of construction waste. AEdifica and Provencher Roy & Associe ´ s Architects. (2000) Mountain Equipment Co-op Ottawa Store. and Metals Program and by the Canadian Institute for Steel Construction (CISC). Deconstruction Institute (n. CSA. Salvage contractors are becoming more aware of the value of the components they extract and the cost of disposing of them to landfill. the cost of a reused steel beam may typically be 60 – 80% of the cost of an equivalent new beam provided that additional fabrication costs are not high. The author wishes to acknowledge the financial support of Natural Resources Canada – Enhanced Recycling component of the Government of Canada Action Plan 2000 on Climate Change. New Zealand. M. H. where downward pressure on fees is strong. However. 66–69. It is important that at the same time the design professions understand the implications of using reclaimed components and embrace new design processes otherwise component reuse may not become widespread.. and much of the steel is then left in place below ground. T. R. S. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the CIB Task Group 39: Deconstruction. Resource and as waste legislation addressing construction and demolition waste becomes more widespread. Canadian Architect. (1998) Second time around: rescuing materials from landfills. (2006) Solid waste management and greenhouse gases: a life-cycle assessment of emissions and sinks. As was mentioned above.2 Many parts of the world are now legislating to reduce waste to landfills by introducing landfill taxes or bans on certain materials to landfill. there are additional public funds available to help prime new approaches to sustainable design. The author is grateful for the information and images provided by Christopher Simmonds Architect. D. L. CBIP-C2000 Case Study. Wellington. (2001) Designing for disassembly. In North America. Straka. and Williams. R. (2002) Economic and environmental comparison between recycling and reuse of structural steel sections. As the impact of green building rating systems such as LEED increase. a flexible design which allows maximum change in the components used at the late stages of design or even during construction allows more scope for including whatever reused components are available. and so the supply of reused components is likely to increase. V. and Clift. as the higher costs of the reused open-web steel trusses at 740 rue Bel-Air case study indicate. 23 (available at: http://yosemite. Natural Resources Canada. References Block. This is possible as the structural design for shoring work is relatively flexible.Designing with reused building components: some challenges If specific reclaimed components are not identified until late in the design or when a contractor is ordering materials. Chapman. Gorgolewski. Opportunities may arise if reused component costs in the long run go down as the infrastructure for deconstruction and reuse becomes established. Minerals. (2006) Facilitating Greater Reuse and Recycling of Structural Steel 187 . 39(2). At present some designers are willing to take on this extra workload for ideological reasons. as in the case study projects. some elements in the case study projects were redesigned several times to accommodate the available materials adding to the design costs.d.. all of this often requires far more effort and time from the design team. P. Jackson. Edmonds.. Also. M. so sticking to such components increases the likelihood of them being available. However. there may be a need to vary the design to suite available components. J. this may be a major obstacle. Luxembourg.) (available at: http://www. Biocycle. Acknowledgements The paper is based on work funded by Natural Resources Canada and the Canadian Institute for Steel Construction and it looked at the potential for reuse of construction components. January. (2001) Developing an inclusive model for design for deconstruction.nsf/content/ ActionsWasteToolsSWMGHGreport. Ont. and Simmonds. The savings can offset additional design fees.deconst ructioninstitute. Canadian Standards Association (CSA) (2004) Draft CSA Guideline on Design for Disassembly and Adaptability in the Built Environment. C. V. Crowther. Demolition contractors are becoming aware of potential markets for reclaimed components and are setting up methods for marketing these components through websites or by appointing personnel whose responsibility it is to survey buildings listed for demolition and identify markets for the components. standard sizes and often used components are more likely to be available for reuse. and more design teams are encouraged to consider a strategy of materials reuse. Meeting of the CIB World Building Congress 6. Thus. Geyer. But in the long-term it is unlikely that design teams will be willing to take on additional work without increased fees. Paper presented at the IISI World Conference. careful planning is required and costs can be reduced if the demolition contractor is aware that the component is to be reused. Catalli. which will unlock funds for higher design fees.html). 46(1). A. Ottawa. Mississauga. In Canada. Increasingly the focus is on contractors to manage resources and waste onsite and so more materials and components are becoming available for reuse. Ferland. Thus. or.

credit 3) aims to extend the useful life of building components by specifying reclaimed or refurbished components. (1920) Millions from Waste. Washington. Ottawa. Gainesville. Ryerson University Report to Natural Resources Canada. IWMB. U. US Green Building Council (USGBC) (2002) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System for New Constructions and Major Renovations (LEED NC) Version 2. A reuse strategy can also contribute to other credits such as the ‘Construction Waste Management’ credit (Materials & Resources.. Edinburgh. W. Ottawa (available at: http://www.denix. 433-01027. B. C. LEED includes two credits which can be achieved by the reuse of materials: Resource Reuse (‘Materials & Resources’. the ‘Recycled Content’ credit (Materials & Resources.html) (accessed on 21 December 2006). Report. Schultmann. Shell. Greater Vancouver Regional District. CA. 226– 236. 188 . Paper presented at the IISI World Conference. B. F.. J. Center for Construction and Environment. and the credit for ‘Regional Materials’ (Materials & Resources. Publication No. USGBC. R. Guy. Strausser. credit 1) aims to support green building design initiatives not included in the existing rating scheme. Integrated Waste Management Board (IWMB) (2001) Deconstruction Training Manual – Waste Management Reuse and Recycling at Mather Field. (1995) The contractor’s waste management plan: cost effective analysis and implementation of waste reduction and disposal alternatives. Paper presented at the Conference on Cost Effective Management of Construction and Demolition Waste and Green Building Procurement. (2002) Dismantling of structures with an emphasis on steel as a building material. Miami.aspx) (accessed on 21 December 2006). E. B. Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) (1998) Creating Wealth from Everyday Items. DC. and Languell. Luxembourg..Gorgolewski in the Construction and Demolition Process. DC (available at: usgbc. ICF Consulting (2005) Determination of the Impact of Waste Management Activities on Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Update. (2002) Building Deconstruction: Reuse and Recycling of Building Materials. Seemann. FL. IWMB. B. Guy. A. Building Deconstruction Consortium (available at: http://www. ILSR. credit 4). Endnotes 1 2 LEED is a registered trademark.recyclecddebris. UK. PA. and Rentz. State of California. Scottish Executive and the Scottish Ecological Design Association (SEDA). Vancouver.reuse-steel. 1..osd.1). O. Building Research & Information. Washington. Publication No. and Hassler. Toronto. Sacramento. (2005) Design for Deconstruction. credit 2). P. S. (2002) Design for Deconstruction and Material Reuse. Metropolitan Books Henry Ho. NRCAN Action Plan 2000 on Climate Change and Environment Canada. Integrated Waste Management Board (IWMB) (2000) A Technical Manual for Material Choices in Sustainable Construction. S. State of California. FL (available at: http://www. C. Ontario. Lippincott. Mincks. Guy. Raess. Talbot. Florida Centre for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management. and Homsley. (2002) Old to New – Design Guide for Salvaged Materials in New Construction. Philadelphia. 431-99-009. J. C. S. Sacramento. F.1. and Innovative Design (‘Innovation & Design Process’.mil/denix/ Public/Library/Sustain/BDC/documents. credit 5. CA. Design Guides for Scotland No. Kohler. Kibert. (2002) The building stock as a research object. and Stevenson. Morgan. New York. University of Resources/CaseStudies. (1999) Waste and Want. (2000) Implementing Deconstruction in Florida. F. N. 30(4). and McLendon.