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New technologies and strategies for the development of pre-fabricated elements through the reuse and recycling of construction materials and structures


Energy-efficient building concepts using new or adapted prefabricated components need to be developed, in order to implement construction processes allowing the reuse and recycling of different materials and structures while reducing energy use and minimising environmental impacts.

In the case of building retrofitting with traditional construction methods poor results are frequently obtained. Recent developments show that even with new constructions the use of recycled materials is still a challenge when prefabrication is concerned. There is a need to address material flows (on-site and off-site processes) and harmonize the way to acquire and use all the information related to the building and its stakeholders (procurers, builders, owners, users, operators, etc.) in order to radically modify the construction processes (e.g. lean construction and higher degree of industrial building prefabrication), and the off-site production of components (e.g. prefabricated components).

Proposals should cover the following areas:

  • Optimisation of recyclability properties of the materials and development of solutions to recycle and reuse construction materials and existing building structures in particular through the uptake by the manufacturing chain.
  • Innovative pre-fabricated elements solutions integrating the latest developments in recycling and reuse of CDW as well as in construction and installation processes which show clear evidence of technical and economic viability for structural and non-structural components with a life-cycle perspective.

The project should also address the demonstration of the recycling technologies in the construction or refurbishment of energy-efficient buildings representative of at least two different climatic zones across Europe, allowing for a high replication potential.

Activities are expected to focus on Technology Readiness Levels 4 to 6.

This topic is particularly suitable for SMEs.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 3 and 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

As a consequence of economic development, construction and demolition waste (CDW) has become a serious problem, creating serious environmental pollution in certain areas of the world. In the EU, CDW accounts for approximately 25% - 30% of all waste generated and consists of numerous materials, many of which can be recycled.

Advanced research actions and technical solutions are required for large-scale reuse and recycling of construction materials in building refurbishment, contributing to overall CO2 and energy reduction. At the same time pre-fabricated components are now commonly used in the construction sector not just to reduce costs but also to facilitate installation/dismantling and re-use of components.

The development of pre-fabricated elements containing a high share of recycled materials and of energy-efficient building concepts considering a high fraction of material replacement is needed. The main focus would be on the recovery/ recycling of materials that have the highest technical and economic interest and which are associated to refurbishment or demolition processes.

At the same time, the possibility to reuse different materials in energy-efficient buildings should be further investigated through a proper characterisation of their properties. Also the development of processes for easy disassembly needs to be considered as well as the need to address strict regulations and standards (eg. anti-seismic) in several European regions.

The EC Waste Directive mentions under Art 11- 2b that: ""by 2020, the preparing for re-use, recycling and other material recovery, including backfilling operations using waste to substitute other materials, of non-hazardous construction and demolition waste excluding naturally occurring material defined in category 17 05 04 in the list of waste shall be increased to a minimum of 70 % by weight.""

  • CO2 savings (by min. 30 %), energy savings (by min 20%), and higher resource efficiency (minimum share of recycled materials in final product of at least 10-15 %) will ultimately contribute to a resource-efficient and climate change resilient economy.
  • Creation of new value chains by expanding the size and attractiveness of CDW recycling and reuse for energy-efficient buildings construction and refurbishment, properly tackling non-technological barriers.
  • High replication potential of the solutions obtained, with the possibility to export EU technology worldwide.
  • Contribution to achieving the objectives of the European Innovation Partnership on Raw Materials, in particular to the relevant impacts shown in Action I.5 ""Recycling of raw materials from products, buildings and infrastructure"" of the Strategic Implementation Plan[[]].

Proposals should include a business case and exploitation strategy, as outlined in the Introduction to the LEIT part of this Work Programme.