This project uses a circular economy framing to investigate use and waste in material supply chains to contribute knowledge so that the housing construction sector can reduce, reuse, recycle and recover resources and rely much less on virgin material

  • Project dates: 2021–2022

Project Summary

This project is co-led by Emeritus Prof. Tony Dalton and Dr Trivess Moore. The aim of the project is to identify how diverse materials supply chains can be looped to avoid waste, so the housing construction sector can reduce, reuse, recycle and recover resources without having to rely on virgin materials.

The research is funded by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI). It is part of an Inquiry Program supported by four linked research projects with participation by researchers across several Australian universities.

This Inquiry establishes an evidence base and framework to support a transition to circular economy housing in Australia. Informed by analysis of national and international data, industry and building site practice, and key informant sources, it interrogates four key housing issues: neighbourhood scale developments; apartments; social housing retrofit, and; building materials. 

Background

The core problem is that there are insufficient capabilities, models, practices, policies and incentives available to establish a building materials circular economy at a sufficient pace. At the macro level, materials stocks (in buildings) and flows (through construction, renovation and demolition processes) are organised by vertically integrated materials manufacturers and suppliers of bulk materials, supplemented by specialist and localised firms. Further, this supply chain is not integrated with the limited product stewardship of materials coming from building demolition and dismantling which is localised and niche.

Circular approaches can reduce the flow and impact of materials through long-lasting design, maintenance, repair, reuse, remanufacturing/repurposing, refurbishing, and recycling. However, there is no assessment of the ‘in-use stocks’ of Australian housing and materials flowing in and out. This project provides a macro examination of the Australian housing system.

Research and Scope

The project is organised in three work packages:

  1. A macro-scale assessment of housing material and energy stocks and flows will be modelled and tested.
  2. A micro-scale case study will analyse materials use, procurement and practices on an apartment construction site.
  3. A map of institutions, actors, demand and policy signals, and practices associated with housing materials supply, use, and end-of-use chains will be developed.

Further Information

If you want to know more about this project or have any questions, please contact Dr Louise Dorignon via louise.dorignon@rmit.edu.au

Demolition of a detached dwelling in Carlton North, Victoria. (Image supplied by Prof Tony Dalton.)

Key People

Associate Director & Deputies

Dr Louise Dorignon

Dr Louise Dorignon

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Tony Dalton

Tony Dalton

Professor

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