The use of upcycled materials has a number of environmental and economic benefits.
First, they minimize the utilization of the earth’s dwindling resources. Many materials have an expiration date today and upcycling is an effective way to counteract this.
Secondly, the use of upcycled materials helps to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, which pollutes soils and threatens biodiversity. The waste that does not end up in landfills is in large part incinerated, which releases the latent CO2 and results in a negative environmental impact, despite the district heating created through the process.
Thirdly, the amount of energy used in recycling or upcycling is a fraction of the energy used when converting raw materials to building components. The products have already had a application in a different context, which makes them CO2-free, so to speak, apart from the small amount of energy used to transform/transport them. The less energy a material requires in its transformation, the better!
In order to choose the best materials in terms of environmental, economic and social benefits, we analysed a wide range of materials during the development phase. The analysis revealed, among other things, the CO2 reduction potential and the climatic properties of each material. The performance of the upcycled material was then compared with standard alternatives in order to visualize the benefits gained from building with these materials.
Overall, we assessed the value/potential of existing building materials based on two parameters, which we consider to be particularly relevant in ensuring that the reuse of materials will in fact create a resource-conscious and sustainable district in the long run.
The materials we took into consideration thus meet one of the following requirements:
Materials that embody the identity of the area and have a special value in relation to cultural heritage.
Materials that minimize total CO2 emissions when reused and have a special value in relation to environmental performance.