New tools for sustainable construction: practical guides on reusing building materials


Sustainability has become a major issue in the construction industry, and rightly so. Construction is responsible for a significant share of global CO2 emissions and resource use. Within the ambitious Interreg project FCRBE (Facilitating the Circulation of Reclaimed Building Elements), funded by European grants, six practical guides have been created to support contractors in reusing building materials. Each guide focuses on a specific contractor profession to help construction professionals in taking the reuse of building materials to the next level. Buildwise and Embuild worked closely together to write and develop these guides.

In Northwest Europe only 1% of building elements are reused after an initial application while technically an immensely higher proportion of building elements are reusable. This results in a large environmental impact and a net loss of economic value. To do something about this - to increase the amount of reclaimed building elements in Northwestern Europe, in other words - the European Interreg project Facilitating the circulation of reclaimed building elements in Northwestern Europe, FCRBE for short, was launched in 2018.

The practical guides for 6 contractor professions

  1. For general contractors: This guide is aimed at general contractors responsible for various aspects of construction projects. It offers insights into the principles of reusing building materials and how these principles can be applied in different project phases.

  2. For finishing contractors: Finishing contractors play a crucial role in giving the finishing touches to construction projects. This guide explains how finishing materials, such as tiles and flooring, can be reused to promote sustainability.

  3. For carpenters: Carpenters are often involved in working with wood and wood products. This guide contains detailed information on how wooden materials, such as old floors, beams and doors, can be dismantled, repaired and reused.

  4. For roofers: This guide teaches roofers how to reuse roofing materials and how to safely dismantle and repair old roofs.

  5. For demolition contractors: Demolition contractors are responsible for demolishing buildings and structures. This guide provides guidelines on how to selectively demolish and harvest usable materials from demolition projects, thereby reducing waste.

  6. For contractors specialising in infrastructure works: Contractors specialising in infrastructure works, such as road and bridge construction, can also contribute to sustainable construction. This guide contains specific information on reusing materials in large-scale infrastructure projects. 

Why should you reuse materials?

Every company is looking for ways to cut costs without sacrificing customer satisfaction. Well, reuse is an ideal solution for that. After all, by not buying new materials, you save money. Moreover, it gives you an edge towards your customers, as consumers today increasingly look at how sustainable companies are. Indeed, more than 8 out of 10 Belgians believe that companies are responsible for caring for the planet*. Regulations are also paying attention to this: sustainability standards are becoming stricter and may also become mandatory in the future. Those who commit to sustainability now are already prepared for what the future holds. 

How to use and share these guides

These practical guides are available for free download from the FCRBE website. You can use them individually or as a complete set, depending on your specialisation and project needs. Or you can share them: both with your team and colleagues to promote sustainability within your company or on your social media platforms to make your clients aware of your commitment to sustainable construction. Download these practical guides today and start reusing building materials to work together for a more sustainable construction industry.