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Designing with reused building components: some challenges

Mark Gorgolewski
Department of Architectural Science, Ryerson University, 350 Victoria Street,Toronto,Ontario M5B 2K3, Canada Email mgorgo@ryerson.ca

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 exible design and specication. 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 lapprovisionnement des ba timents? Deux e tudes de cas relatives a ` des projets de construction mettent en lumie ` re les proble ` mes dorganisation et de proce dure relatifs a ` la re utilisation de composants. Les architectes ont besoin dinformations 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 conna tre les caracte ristiques e conomiques et les conse quences pour les programmes. La proce dure de conception doit pre voir des spe cications et des concepts plus souples. Des compe tences additionnelles sont ne cessaires pour trouver et e valuer des composants. Il faut des contrats dapprovisionnement 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 todays global economic climate signicant competitive advantages as well as strategic and environmental benets can potentially be gained from the efcient 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 ow 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: www.tandf.co.uk journals DOI: 10.1080/09613210701559499


ways, which often make their assembly and disassembly difcult to achieve. However, 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, as well as a reduction in primary resources used and savings in greenhouse gas emissions (Gorgolewski et al., 2006).

Objectives and methods

This paper is based on work carried out to examine the opportunities for building component reuse in Canada. 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, the design process, and the implications for the client in terms of process, time, and risk. 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., 2006), which aimed to develop a greater understanding of the materials ows in the steel construction industry and use this knowledge to provide tools that facilitate greater reuse and recycling of steel components. 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, or data were collected after construction. Information about the issues that the design team had to address when reusing components was identied through site observations during or in some cases after construction, interviews with key members, and a review of relevant documents. Researchers were not directly involved in the projects. 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.

structures) are designed as temporary buildings with a view to relocation. Other temporary structures are taken down and the material reused in more permanent buildings. For example, 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. Lessons from these buildings suggest that maximum exibility and adaptability are needed if they are to be successfully reused. Issues such as different environmental loadings, transportation, and deconstruction process are all important. However, most of the existing building stock was not designed for relocation or dismantling. 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. Also, the established design and construction processes make reuse more difcult to integrate since they rely on readily available standard materials. As environmental concerns are becoming more prominent in the decisionmaking process, and as material costs increase to reect the true environmental cost of their supply industry, the dismantling and reuse of components is attracting more interest. However, 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. The widespread adoption of the green building rating systems such as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED1; US Green Building Council (USGBC), 2002) has had a considerable impact on the industry in North America and has increased interest in reuse and recycling in construction. In addition, difculties with waste disposal and limitations on land lling have stimulated interest in the potential economic benets of alternatives. Waste is becoming regarded as a lost resource and a loss of potential prot. Processes that add value to waste materials can lead to signicant nancial benets. This has driven considerable interest and research into issues of deconstruction, design for deconstruction, and the reuse of components and material recycling. 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. In California the Integrated Waste Management Board has produced various publications related to construction material reuse and recycling in support of the states 50% waste diversion goal. 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. Their A Technical Manual for Material Choices in Sustainable Construction

Materials recovery and component reuse are not new concepts. They have existed for many years and were much more widely practised in the pre-industrial era (Talbot, 1920, p. 308; Strausser, 1999, p. 355). Materials recovery activities have uctuated over time depending on changes in the economy, technology advances, codes and fashions, trends towards convenience, and the disposability of components. In particular, metal reuse and recycling has existed as long as the use of metal itself (Strausser, 1999). Currently, many structures such as travelling exhibitions, trade fairs, expos, and sports facilities (tents and air-supported

Designing with reused building components: some challenges

(Integrated Waste Management Board (IWMB), 2000) outlines the opportunities for reuse in construction, and lists potential components that can be successfully reused. The Deconstruction Training Manual (IWMB, 2001) aims to grow a viable industry and reduce the amount of construction and demolition debris that makes its way into Californias waste stream. This indicates that deconstruction may cost 30 50% less than straight demolition due to lower machinery and disposal costs. There is also considerable interest in the potential for savings in greenhouse gas emissions from materials recycling and reuse strategies. The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has developed a method to quantify the energy benets of improved materials management and found that recycling and source reduction conserve large amounts of energy leading to signicant savings in greenhouse gas emissions (Ferland, 2006). The USEPA undertook a study to calculate the energy benets of improved material management throughout a materials life cycle. The study developed net energy factors for a selection of materials analysed for four waste management options: source reduction, recycling, combustion, and land-lling. The study shows that energy savings are generated for all the materials studied when they are recycled. 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. 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. A Canadian study with similar conclusions has also been published (ICF Consulting, 2005). From an economic point of view, a report, Creating Wealth from Everyday Items, from the Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR, 1998), proled nine private and four government reuse operations (Block and Wood, 1998). Based on these, the ILSR estimates that on a per ton basis, reuse operations generate nine times more jobs than traditional recycling and 38 times more than land-lling and incineration. If the 25.5 million tons of durable goods disposed of annually in the US were reclaimed by reuse operations, more than 220 000 new jobs could potentially be created in this industry alone, the report states. Mincks (1995) suggests a formula to determine and compare the cost of new and used building materials, and points out that an assessment of the materials structural quality, durability, and aesthetics needs to be accounted for when considering and comparing the cost of salvaged and new materials. Geyer et al. (2002) developed a life cycle analytical model to investigate the comparative benets of steel

recycling and reuse. The results emphasize how limiting factors such as market demand, product innovation and depreciation can dominate the system performance. Ultimately, the analysis demonstrates that there are strong environmental and economic benets that favour a shift away from the recycling of steel as a material to reuse of steel components. However, the research also indicates that bottlenecks such as a limited supply of reused components due to limited deconstruction, a lack of technical feasibility to reuse, or limited market demand can invert the situation. An uncoordinated supply chain could lead to higher costs and environmental impacts. Thus, the designers role in the process is important to ensure this does not create bottlenecks. Similarly, Raess et al. (2002) show examples of deconstruction projects in Germany and France, and use a cost-optimized concept for minimization, recycling and reuse of demolition waste including a techno-economical assessment of recycling options for the various fractions of materials. Based on this analysis they conclude that the dismantling of selected construction elements combined with adequate recycling options is a promising, cost-competitive approach to full various legislative requirements in Germany and France that aim to prevent (where possible) and recover waste in the construction sector. 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. Six one- 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, 2002). Reuse and materials redistribution included on- and off-site redistribution. 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. The study concluded that deconstruction can be more cost-effective than demolition when considering the reduction in landll disposal costs and the revenues from salvage. Although the cost of the deconstruction process was on average 21% higher than demolition, the net cost of deconstruction after factoring in the revenue from sales was 37% lower than demolition. Another study from the CCE by Kibert et al. (2000) analysed the feasibility of replacing demolition and traditional disposal of materials with deconstruction and reuse. It identied a series of factors including labour costs, tipping fees, hazardous materials, existing markets, reuse materials markings, material grading systems, time and economic constrains, contractual agreements, and public policy as relevant to the successful implementation of deconstruction and reuse


practices. Several of these factors, including contractual issues, time and economic constraints, and the availability of reused component, were also highlighted by the cases studies reported in this paper, and their impact on the design process are discussed below. Further improvements can be achieved by considering future demolition and disassembly of building elements at the planning stage of new buildings. Design for Deconstruction or Disassembly (DfD) (used interchangeably) integrates waste prevention into the design process. In recent years a considerable amount of interest has been generated in the concept of DfD with many studies and papers (Crowther, 2001; Deconstruction Institute, n.d.). The ease of deconstruction is affected by the building systems and technologies used, and the availability of relevant documentation and information. The appropriate use of technologies and their successful integration into the design process will facilitate an increased reuse of structural components. 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), 2004). This work includes a proposal to use a life cycle assessment methodology to identify the overall benet of different approaches. 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. Guy et al. (2002) explore strategies and details for Design for Disassembly at the Chartwell School in Seaside, California. Strategies include segregating utilities from wood framing to allow for easier disassembly and to reduce holes in the framing, thereby increasing future salvage value. Windows are designed so they can be replaced by simply removing the wood trim, without disturbing the adjacent nishes. Similarly, the wood siding is fastened with clips screwed into the backing for ease of disassembly. Much of the work reviewed above focuses on what types of materials can be reused, and the technical issues of deconstruction and reuse. There is little research about the implications of component reuse on the design process. This paper considers how the design process may have to change when using of reclaimed components.

Figure 1 Adaptive reuse: this old building industrial structure was adapted, reclad and reused for a new use as a car sales centre

common with heritage structures as they are seen to have cultural value. 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. Signicant nancial savings are also possible. Adaptive reuse normally implies a change of function resulting from building obsolescence.

Move most or all of an existing building to a new location (Figure 2). Relocation sometimes occurs for pre-engineered buildings such as industrial buildings and warehouses, and occasionally for other building types. Temporary buildings offer lessons about how to design to allow for future relocation. Reuse individual components extracted from the demolition of one project in a new building (Figure 3). This form of reuse is sometimes called component reuse. Structural components such as beams, columns, or non-structural components such as cladding panels, bricks or staircases are taken from one project and used in another (see the case studies below). This is not yet common other than for heritage components. It helps to consider at the design stage how a building will be deconstructed to make it more feasible that components are reused.

Environmental benets of reuse

There are three ways of reusing previously used components in a project:

Reuse an existing structure on the site and possibly add to it or extend it (Figure 1). This approach, often called adaptive reuse, is now relatively

From an environmental and economic point of view, the reuse of buildings or reclaimed components is usually regarded as more benecial than the recycling of materials. Reuse of components or whole buildings generally requires less reprocessing, so greater environmental benets often result compared with recycling. Component reuse is not usually possible for materials such as in-situ poured concrete which are destroyed


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), but is more realistic for many engineered components that can be deconstructed undamaged. 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, 2006).

when reusing components and how to best integrate them into new projects are considered below and in the case studies. Industry scepticism and tradition have been identied as standing in the way of change: Standard practices for construction, renovation and demolition are heavily geared towards the fastest, easiest and most economical way to get the job done. Designing and constructing for disassembly, when viewed in isolation, can seem costly and laborious compared to the norm. However, 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. Potentially, less money will be spent on new materials or landll, making designing for disassembly a more economical venture. (Catalli and Williams, 2001, p. 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. (Chapman and Simmonds, 2000, p. 2) One of the principal problems with reuse is to coordinate demand with supply, and this can affect the whole design and construction process: reclaimed materials do not show up at the right time, in the right amount or the right dimension. With a traditional approach to design, the construction components are specied and sized to suit the spanning requirements of the architects proposals, usually using off-the-shelf (e.g. standard) sizes. However, reused

Designing with reclaimed components

Nevertheless, the reuse of building components has greater implications on the building design process than using recycled materials. Recycling generally involves a used material being fed back into the manufacturing process either of the same material (e.g. steel) or of a different material (e.g. waste paper into cellulose insulation). Designers can then assess the specications of these recycled materials and make informed choices to replace virgin materials with others that are made partly or entirely from recycled materials. In some cases, such as for many metals, there is no clear distinction between the recycled material and the virgin material. Many industries are trying to increase the recycled content of the materials they produce. In contrast, the reuse of components reclaimed from demolition usually requires the designers to be far more exible and willing to adapt their normal processes. This is because reclaimed components are often not readily available from stock and their specications may not be clear. Therefore, the reuse of reclaimed components often requires a change in approach and process. 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


components do not generally come off the shelf. Rather, they are identied on demolition sites by salvage contractors and may be difcult to source. When proceeding to construction, the required size or type of component may not be readily available. This may necessitate a redesign to suit the available reclaimed components or choosing whichever oversized components are readily available. In future, to maximize the potential for reuse, the starting point for a new design may be an inventory of the available materials from salvage. For structural design the size and length of the available members will then determine the spans and spacing possible in the new structure, thus maximizing structural efciency from the available components (see The Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) case study below). This requires that the available components are identied early in the design process, 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 specic materials or products for the duration of the design and tender period that may last years. This has severe cash ow 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. Furthermore, this will involve the design team in considerable additional research at the front end of the project to identify, locate, inspect and choose appropriate components. 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. This may lead to additional cost in design and testing fees. In some cases these can be offset against reduced materials costs, but this will vary from case to case. Some companies in North America have identied this as a business opportunity and are now offering a deconstruction service and marketing an inventory of reused components. Also, consultants are now offering their expertise to source reused components. If the pre-purchase of components is not possible, it is essential to provide exibility in the design, particularly in the choice of structural components, so alternative options can be used and the design adjusted to suit depending on component availability later in the process. This requires appropriate contractual procedures to be used as the nal materials may not be specied at the time of tendering. Engineers and architects can benet from developing working relationships with demolition and salvage contractors to increase their awareness of available reclaimed materials, thus improving their choices when such components are required and help to manage risk by beneting from the expertise of the salvage industry. An alternative approach would be to identify and purchase a suitable building already condemned for

demolition that contains suitable components, and reuse as many components as possible in the new project, as was done in the MEC case study below.

Case studies
Two Canadian projects are briey presented that feature the use of reclaimed components. In both projects an old building on the site became the source of many components that were used in the new design.

The Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC)

The MEC is a well-established retail company operating as a membership cooperative, supplying quality outdoor equipment in Canada for over 30 years. It operates retail facilities in ten locations across Canada, from Vancouver to Halifax, many of which address issues of sustainability in their building practices. 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. The MECs design philosophy focuses on creating the most environmentally and socially sensitive structures possible. Some of the features found in their recently constructed buildings include green roofs, composting toilets, day lighting systems, recycled or reused materials, radiant ooring, efcient heating and cooling techniques, and other energy-saving measures, which are unusual in retail buildings in North America. MEC is a particularly strong believer in reusing materials in construction, and reclaimed components feature in several recently completed MEC stores. The new MEC store in Ottawa (Figure 4) is a twostorey, 2600 m2 retail facility located on a shopping street close to downtown, which was completed in June 2000. The building consists of a heavy timber structure on the ground oor and a steel structure on the rst oor with open-web steel joists supporting a screw-fastened steel deck roof with mineral wool insulation providing a U-value of 0.14 W/m2K. The wall cladding consists of 240 mm thick engineered wood I-joists clad with locally salvaged plywood sheathing with recycled cellulose insulation (U 0.18 W/m2K). Various materials were used for cladding for aesthetic reasons, including corrugated steel panels for durability, bre cement boards in areas where vines are to grow, and rock excavated from the site. 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. Other goals related to the performance of the building were dictated by the design teams aim to achieve a gold rating using an early version of the LEED green building rating system

Designing with reused building components: some challenges

remaining materials and components from the existing building were sorted and, wherever practical, 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. This was followed by an on-site sale of materials not reused on-site. Reusing structural components requires establishing with condence their structural characteristics. In this case, the original specications and drawings for the existing structure were available to the design team and contractor. They were used to label all the steel as it was dismantled. All the members were inspected for damage and assessed by the structural engineer to conrm their structural capacities. 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. Since their loading was similar to the old building the structural engineers were able to demonstrate building code compliance. The original building was used to support a roof with a snow load typical for Ottawa, but was not suitable for use to support a oor structure with a far higher (5 kPa) retail oor load. However, the new building needed to be two storeys high to accommodate the spatial needs of the MEC, so it was decided that the reclaimed steel should be used for the roof structure above a new rst oor. The gridlines and column locations were sited to enable the existing foundations, columns and beams to be reused, and the existing concrete oor slab and terrazzo nish were retained. The new structure supporting the rst-oor timber oor consists of large locally reclaimed Douglas r columns and beams. These were chosen to create a timber-framed ground oor that satised aesthetic requirements, with low embodied energy and high reclaimed content. These timber components had to be sized, inspected,

Figure 4 The Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC),Ottawa

(USGBC, 2002). The selection of materials for the project was driven by the goal of using the maximum possible amount of reclaimed, rather than new, materials. The project is an example of how key structural components from an old building can be used to create a new energy-efcient building on the same site, signicantly reducing the need for new materials, and potentially leading to environmental and cost benets. The design team calculated that the building uses 56% of recycled or reused content by weight, and the MEC has since applied a similar approach for several other buildings and shown that it is economically feasible and practically achievable.

Process of reuse

When the MEC acquired the site, it was occupied by a 40-year-old, one-storey, 1000 m2 former grocery store with steel columns, beams and 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 efciently into a new twostorey building the best to serve its particular purpose. 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. 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 proled steel roof deck was welded so its removal led to damage beyond repair and it had to be sent for recycling as raw steel. The components were labelled and mostly taken off-site as there was no room for stockpiling, and, in any case, the required modications could be made in the shop rather than at the site (Figure 5). Seventy-ve per cent of the weight of the structure and shell of this existing building, including the steel columns, beams and most of the open-web steel joists, were incorporated into the new building. The

Figure 5 Materials storage at The Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) after deconstruction 181


and graded to t with the steel structure used on the second oor. This structure created a two-storey form that provided a retail space for the building that could accommodate the interior climbing wall feature, wall displays, and a two-storey atrium space. 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, supplemented with new steel joists and a new deck. Since the structural spans chosen for the new building were based on the spans used in the old building, the load requirements for the new roof were virtually unchanged, though joist spacing was tightened in some locations to accommodate roof projections and rooftop equipment.
Economic discussion

2600 m2. The costs are therefore just over CA$1100 per m2, which is about 13% above typical big box retail in Ottawa (CA$980/m2). Much of this is due to the increased thermal and environmental standards and not due to the material reuse, which may have saved money overall. The specication of reused components required considerable additional effort from the design team. This building was designed under Canadas C2000 programme. This provided nancial support to offset the additional design costs (not capital costs) necessary to meet higher standards of energy efciency, and reduce environmental impact. Thus, some of the extra costs incurred by the design team to develop a sustainable specication were covered. Also, the building was designed using the C2000 integrated design team process which requires the team to work closely together throughout the project, and to use a series of design charrettes.

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 reected in a natural inclination to bid higher. Fortunately, the lowest bidder on the project was also very keen to undertake the work and very much interested in the concept of reusing components, so this bid was accepted. To assist the tendering contractors, an open house was held where materials were viewed before tender. Any materials not reused or recycled in the new building were later sold at an on-site sale. The MEC had expected additional costs of about 10% to achieve its strict environmental criteria and energy efciency. The total building and site development costs were approximately CA$2.9 million, including consultant fees, which accounted for 10% of the construction costs for a gross oor 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. The site consisted of a series of industrial buildings mainly using brick, iron and steel dating from 1851, with various more recent additions. An old drawing from a newspaper indicates that the building was the rst in Montreal to use saw-tooth northfacing lighting in the roof. It had previously been used for a variety of heavy industries including a foundry, but in more recent times the buildings served as storage space. Public Works and Government

Table 1 Fifty-six per cent of materials by weight used at The Mountain Equipment Co-op,Ottawa, came from reused or recycled sources Element Substructure Reused from existing building on-site Existing foundations were reused by using the same structural grid; concrete removed from the site was crushed and used as backll, 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; 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 specied for external sheathing of walls, but was not available at the time of construction Floor nish for the second storey was a structural wood deck using salvaged Douglas r Ofce and staff rooms were furnished with used or recovered furniture; salvaged wood was used for sun shades and other details

Roof Wall

Floor Other


Designing with reused building components: some challenges

Services Canada (PWGSC), who owned the site, wanted to use the project to showcase a range of green strategies, including the reuse of the buildings or components and recycling of materials that were already on-site. It proposed a facility to house various government departments including warehousing, ofce space, and other specialized uses, sharing facilities such as meeting rooms, storage space, and heating and lighting systems, allowing the tenants to benet from the economies of scale and reducing the need for building space. The new 15 700 m2 building (with additional below-ground parking) has a mixture of concrete and steel structure, with brick and metal cladding and a at roof (Figure 6). A geothermal heating and cooling system is used with some supplementary solar power. The design also focuses on daylighting and natural ventilation to reduce electricity consumption and improve personal comfort. To conserve water, rain is collected for use in toilets and to water the grounds. The combined effect of these strategies is expected to help achieve a gold LEED green building rating. Many of the original building components and materials were reclaimed and reused (in this and other projects), or recycled, and new materials were carefully screened and selected for their environmental impact. Materials from the old buildings reused in the new project include steel joists, steel cladding, bricks, and crushed concrete as ll.

other projects around Montreal or was sent for recycling. A materials audit was carried out, tracing which materials were available and where they were disposed of. This indicated that approximately 325 open-web steel roof joists were identied as suitable for reuse in the new building, although 15% of these were damaged in the process of deconstruction or during storage due to their lightweight characteristics. In addition, a considerable amount of steel cladding, brick, timber, and electrical and mechanical equipment such as elevator components could be reused. Other materials such as wiring, pipes, wood beams, and other steel sections were suitable for recycling, and 8000 tonnes of concrete were crushed to use as ll during the shoring process or for site engineering works. In total, it is estimated that the project was able to divert about 9000 m3 of building materials from landll for reuse or recycling.
Design process

Deconstruction process

The client appointed AEdica, a Montreal architectural practice, to oversee the deconstruction process and identify materials that could be reused, either onsite in the new building or elsewhere. A contractor specializing in deconstruction (as opposed to demolition) was hired to take down the existing building and nd ways of reusing as many components as possible and recycling the rest of the material, where possible (Figure 7). Most of the material was reused off-site in

The architects developed initial conceptual ideas for redeveloping 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). The designs were then revised to suit the available reclaimed materials. The availability of information at the appropriate time in the design process was found to be crucial. 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. This meant that the designs had to be based on estimates and the architects tried to maintain as much exibility in the design to accommodate a range of sizes. This complicated the process. In such a situation old drawings of the existing structure can save time and facilitate the process, as well as increasing reuse opportunities. 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, December 2002 183


trimming of damaged areas and repainting before installation in the new building. 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. 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, stored, and refabricated appropriately and location to minimize multiple handling and damage.
Economic discussion
Figure 8 Reused open-web steel joists at 740 rue Bel-Air

Canada archive, and which helped them to identify the structural characteristics of components. Nevertheless, to establish their structural integrity and suitability, X-ray imaging and chemical analysis had to be carried out of the open-web steel joists, at a cost of approximately CA$20 000. This showed they were suitable for the new building, provided they were used at closer centres than modern joists. Initially, 100 joists were put aside for use on this project, with the remainder being disposed of for other reuse projects or for steel recycling. Ultimately, some 65 joists were reused.

Construction process

The project was divided into three contractual phases: deconstruction; site remediation including shoring and other ground works; and new construction. This led to some coordination problems such as contractors not accepting responsibility for dealing appropriately with the materials that were to be reused. Unfortunately, the deconstruction process caused damage to about 15% of the steel joists which made them unsuitable for reuse. There was also a shortage of suitable space on-site for storage during construction. 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. This multiple handling and the time delay between deconstruction and reuse (over two years) led to further damage and resulted in additional costs. Eventually, the open-web steel joists were sent to a steel fabricator for sorting and minor refabrication. This was necessary as it was found that there was some variation in their length. Although some were adapted in length in the workshop, there were still problems that required adjustment of the joist seats on-site. The joists were also cleaned and repainted before installation on-site. The steel cladding required

The construction cost of the new building was approximately CA$34 million for a 15 700 m2 building and additional car parking. It is estimated that the additional environmental features cost about CA$2 million extra, but will have a payback period of about eight years. The precise cost implications or reusing materials are unknown, but the structural engineer for the project felt that the reuse of openweb steel joists was not a cost saving as the additional refabrication, storage and handling charges were greater than the cost of new joists. AEdica 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. However, the issue of timing is critical. The deconstruction process requires more time to deal with the materials carefully, and this must be included in any overall project programme. In this large project there were also additional fees for designers to identify reusable components, but these were recouped through the resale of the extracted components and materials. Also, 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 identied in the old building; 65 were reused on-site in the roof structure; 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; old brick, although deemed unsuitable for use externally due to concerns about moisture absorption, was appropriate for internal wall surfaces; the entrance hall retained the facade of the former steel foundry Incidental salvaged timber was used wherever appropriate; some electrical and mechanical equipment such as elevator components were reused



Designing with reused building components: some challenges

space for storage of the reclaimed materials, ideally onsite, or, if necessary, elsewhere before new uses are found for them.

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 signicant quantities of reclaimed construction components into a new building, working within time, distance, and cost constraints. Nevertheless, the projects also highlight the challenges inherent in such an approach to building, which include the following:

wood grader was hired to examine and grade the salvaged timbers. The structural engineer and steel sub-trade had to assess the old steel for any damage and for conformity to current code standards. 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.

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, preferably on-site before they are sold. There may also be higher design fees due to additional work in sourcing the reused components. Both case study projects demonstrate that reclaimed materials can be put to a new use and be economically viable, but must be integrated carefully into any overall project programme. Using reclaimed materials adds a new level of complexity to a project and signicantly changes the design and construction process. Reclaimed materials do not show up at the right time, in the right amounts or at the right dimensions. For example, the reclaimed plywood specied for the MEC was not available at the time of construction. In some cases materials may need to be purchased early when they are available and stored, causing additional costs. 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. The MEC was able to reuse even the foundations by basing the design around the spans of the original structural components. However, this can lead to problems of storage of materials during the construction process, and requires careful planning. It is most economic to avoid multiple handling, but this may require sufcient space on-site for storage in out-of-the-way locations. Establishing structural characteristics is a concern to design teams. In both case studies the original drawings and specications were available that increased reuse opportunities, helped establish the structural characteristics of the material, saved time and facilitated the design process. Nevertheless, at the MEC structural tests were performed on the old concrete blocks, and a professional

A strategy to reuse materials may require considerable exibility from the design team and a willingness to adapt the design as materials become available. The availability of information at the appropriate time in the design process is important. Accurate information about the sizes of available reclaimed components in the early stages of design helps to facilitate appropriate design decisions. In the MEC some elements of the steel roof and timber oor 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 specications of the steel joists. Clearly this has signicant implications on design fees. It is benecial if decisions on using reclaimed materials are made early in the design process, and reclaimed materials and components are identied early on so they can be designed in, and additional costs can be minimized. However, this means that materials may need to be purchased and stored early in the design process before a contractor is appointed, which may cause difculties for the client and the contractual process. One way to identify potential components for reuse early on is to purchase a whole old building and reuse its components, or reuse components from an existing building on the site as the issues of timing and security of supply are reduced. Structural component reuse is easier if components can be reused for a purpose similar to their original one. When incorporating structural components from an existing building in a new project, using similar structural layouts and maintaining original span sizes in the new design makes reuse easier. 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, as the lightweight nature of these makes them more susceptible to damage, and the higher value of the larger elements make the effort to salvage more cost-effective. The nature of junctions is important to the practicality of deconstruction. Reversible joints such as screws and bolts are desirable, permanent xings such as welding can make deconstruction difcult and components are more easily damaged. Decking spot-welded at the MEC made removal


without damage difcult and also led to some difculties with the removal of the open-web steel joists. Reversible jointing systems such as bolting was used in the new MEC building to facilitate future deconstruction.

Some contractors may be nervous about tendering for unusual projects of this kind. There is a need to educate contractors and work with them to ensure that full cost benets can be realized. The role of the client is crucial in any deconstruction and reuse strategy. In both case studies the client was committed to a strategy of materials conservation and reuse. 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. Reusing materials is very site-specic and timedependent. The location, space constraints, time constraints, and design requirements all have an impact on what may be feasible and realistic.

reasons of limiting liability. The industry needs to develop a level of comfort with the use of reused components and to established procedures for approval. It is also true that many old components may be equally as good, or even better, than new versions. Generally, a steel beam can be expected to perform equally well even if it has been used before, and some old timber is of a higher quality than new timber that has been plantation grown. 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. 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. Linked to risk is the issue of timing and availability. Reclaimed components are not currently easily available off the shelf in quantities and a range of specications that designers expect. A limited availability of such components makes it difcult for designers who wish to specify them. There is a lack of a coordinated supply chain that ensures a consistent supply. In some cases designers have been able to identify specic components early on during the design process at demolition sites or reclamation yards. However, at this stage the contractor is often not appointed yet, so the client has to spend money up front purchasing materials, which many clients will not be willing to do. 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 identied for the project. A management contractor may also be more willing to embrace the project aims of reusing materials than a traditionally tendered contractor. If a conventional main contractor is used, the requirement for reclaimed materials must be specied 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 few companies have identied reuse as a business opportunity and have started to assemble an inventory of reused components. An increase in deconstruction practices will improve the supply of reused components, but demolition rather than deconstruction is still generally the rule for perceived economic and programming reasons. To address this issue, some architects in Canada have identied specic buildings listed for demolition to use as a material and component source for their new product. In this way they are assured of a known list of components to reuse early on in the design process, and have some control of their supply. This may be the most effective way to address some of the difculties of component reuse.

The case studies discussed above suggest that the reuse of components in buildings can contribute signicantly to meeting environmental goals. But the reuse of materials in buildings is site-specic and timedependent, requiring acceptance that the design and construction process may need to change. Currently, standard construction and demolition practices focus on the fastest, easiest and most economical way to get the job done. 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, it creates barriers to a more ecologically sound use of resources. Using reclaimed components has signicant implications on the process of design as well as construction. These need to be understood by the design team and client so that appropriate strategies are put into place. What aspects of the design process need to change to accommodate component reuse, and what new/other skills/training do architects and engineers need? A key issue for designers is the increased risk involved. Designers may perceive that they are taking additional risks by specifying components with less predictable characteristics. In the case studies reported in this paper the client was willing to take on this risk for ideological reasons, but this will not be the case in most projects. In many cases standard specications prevent or inhibit the use of reused components for

Designing with reused building components: some challenges

If specic reclaimed components are not identied until late in the design or when a contractor is ordering materials, there may be a need to vary the design to suite available components. Thus, a exible 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. Also, standard sizes and often used components are more likely to be available for reuse, so sticking to such components increases the likelihood of them being available. However, all of this often requires far more effort and time from the design team. As was mentioned above, some elements in the case study projects were redesigned several times to accommodate the available materials adding to the design costs. At present some designers are willing to take on this extra workload for ideological reasons, or, as in the case study projects, there are additional public funds available to help prime new approaches to sustainable design. But in the long-term it is unlikely that design teams will be willing to take on additional work without increased fees. In North America, where downward pressure on fees is strong, this may be a major obstacle. Opportunities may arise if reused component costs in the long run go down as the infrastructure for deconstruction and reuse becomes established, which will unlock funds for higher design fees. In Canada, 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 savings can offset additional design fees. However, as the higher costs of the reused open-web steel trusses at 740 rue Bel-Air case study indicate, reused components can be more expensive if there is a need for multiple handling and refabrication. Thus, careful planning is required and costs can be reduced if the demolition contractor is aware that the component is to be reused. 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 difculty of traditional methods of disposal of construction waste. 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. In this way much of the steel required for shoring projects in Toronto is supplied from steel reclaimed from demolition projects. This is possible as the structural design for shoring work is relatively exible, and much of the steel is then left in place below ground. As the impact of green building rating systems such as LEED increase, and as waste legislation addressing

construction and demolition waste becomes more widespread, more design teams are encouraged to consider a strategy of materials reuse.2 Many parts of the world are now legislating to reduce waste to landlls by introducing landll taxes or bans on certain materials to landll. Increasingly the focus is on contractors to manage resources and waste onsite and so more materials and components are becoming available for reuse. Salvage contractors are becoming more aware of the value of the components they extract and the cost of disposing of them to landll, and so the supply of reused components is likely to increase. 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.

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. The author wishes to acknowledge the nancial support of Natural Resources Canada Enhanced Recycling component of the Government of Canada Action Plan 2000 on Climate Change, Minerals, and Metals Program and by the Canadian Institute for Steel Construction (CISC). The author is grateful for the information and images provided by Christopher Simmonds Architect, AEdica and Provencher Roy & Associe s Architects.

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in the Construction and Demolition Process. Ryerson University Report to Natural Resources Canada, Ottawa (available at: http://www.reuse-steel.org/contact/). Guy, B. and McLendon, S. (2002) Building Deconstruction: Reuse and Recycling of Building Materials, Center for Construction and Environment, University of Florida, Miami, FL (available at: http://www.recyclecddebris.com/rCDd/ Resources/CaseStudies.aspx) (accessed on 21 December 2006). Guy, B., Shell, S. and Homsley, E. (2002) Design for Deconstruction and Material Reuse, Building Deconstruction Consortium (available at: http://www.denix.osd.mil/denix/ Public/Library/Sustain/BDC/documents.html) (accessed on 21 December 2006). ICF Consulting (2005) Determination of the Impact of Waste Management Activities on Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Update. NRCAN Action Plan 2000 on Climate Change and Environment Canada, Ottawa. Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) (1998) Creating Wealth from Everyday Items. Report, ILSR, Washington, DC. Integrated Waste Management Board (IWMB) (2000) A Technical Manual for Material Choices in Sustainable Construction. Publication No. 431-99-009, IWMB, State of California, Sacramento, CA. Integrated Waste Management Board (IWMB) (2001) Deconstruction Training Manual Waste Management Reuse and Recycling at Mather Field. Publication No. 433-01027, IWMB, State of California, Sacramento, CA. Kernan, P. (2002) Old to New Design Guide for Salvaged Materials in New Construction, Greater Vancouver Regional District, Vancouver. Kibert, C., Guy, B. and Languell, J. (2000) Implementing Deconstruction in Florida, Florida Centre for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management, Gainesville, FL. Kohler, N. and Hassler, U. (2002) The building stock as a research object. Building Research & Information, 30(4), 226 236. Mincks, W. R. (1995) The contractors 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, Toronto, Ontario. Morgan, C. and Stevenson, F. (2005) Design for Deconstruction. Design Guides for Scotland No. 1, Scottish Executive and the Scottish Ecological Design Association (SEDA), Edinburgh, UK. Raess, C., Schultmann, F., Seemann, A. and Rentz, O. (2002) Dismantling of structures with an emphasis on steel as a building material. Paper presented at the IISI World Conference, Luxembourg. Strausser, S. (1999) Waste and Want, Metropolitan Books Henry Ho, New York, NY. Talbot, F. (1920) Millions from Waste, J. B. Lippincott, Philadelphia, PA. 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 2.1, USGBC, Washington, DC (available at: usgbc.org).

1 2

LEED is a registered trademark.

LEED includes two credits which can be achieved by the reuse of materials: Resource Reuse (Materials & Resources, credit 3) aims to extend the useful life of building components by specifying reclaimed or refurbished components; and Innovative Design (Innovation & Design Process, credit 1) aims to support green building design initiatives not included in the existing rating scheme. A reuse strategy can also contribute to other credits such as the Construction Waste Management credit (Materials & Resources, credit 2), the Recycled Content credit (Materials & Resources, credit 4), and the credit for Regional Materials (Materials & Resources, credit 5.1).