Sustainable building | Recycling of building materials

Live in a recycling house

Germany’s first recycling house was built in Hannover in 2019. The architects came up with creative solutions to reuse as many materials as possible. Radiators, stairs and several walls are made of sauna benches. The facade insulation is made of recycled jute bags for the cocoa beans. And the windows were from an old youth club.

The planning of the project took three years. The main reason for this was the tedious search for recyclable building materials and companies capable of installing the recycled materials. If this is the reason why the recycling house was not mass-produced, it nevertheless sets an example and proves how different materials can be reused in new buildings.

An impact hub made of waste

They collect shower cubicles, mailboxes and banisters: Alice Gedamu, Laurence Pagni and Simon Lee from Berlin want to revolutionize the construction industry. They want to show how a circular economy can work in the building with their CRCLR House project, which is worth millions of euros. The team uses scraps and straw to build a multi-storey house on the grounds of a former brewery. They use materials in condemned buildings and experiment with materials discarded on other construction sites. This is how the trio aims to keep construction costs low to reduce financial pressures on future tenants.

The team handed over the CRCLR house to Impact Hub Berlin in 2021. The network wants to continue developing the building as a model of sustainability and integrated design.

High-rise building made of recycled aluminum

In theory, you can recycle aluminum an infinite number of times. Hardly any other material has such a long service life. However, depending on the manufacturing process used, different volumes of CO2 are emitted. China largely produces aluminum with coal-fired power, resulting in the emission of around 20 kilograms of CO2 per kilogram of aluminum. In Europe, most companies now depend on renewable energy: one kilogram of aluminum results in only four kilograms of CO2 emissions.

However, the construction can be even more durable. A Norwegian company uses recycled aluminum in its buildings. This translates to only 2.3 kilograms of CO2 per kilogram. The recycled material was recently used in the construction of the Senckenberg Tower in Frankfurt am Main. The facade of the 106 meter high office building is made of 95% aluminium, of which at least three quarters are produced from recycled materials. The building has thus avoided more than 2,600 tons of CO2 emissions compared to conventional production.

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