Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question? Read through our FAQ below. If you can't find an answer,
please email our support team. We're here to help.

Relondon provides the following definition: “A circular economy is one in which stuff is kept in use for as long as possible, delivering the highest value it can, for as long as it can. So rather than making, using and then throwing stuff away (a linear system), a circular economy means looking at each of those stages for new ways of cycling materials and value back into the system – using materials and products again and again, in many different forms.”

Reuse can be defined as any operation by which products or components that are not ‘waste’ are used again for the same purpose for which they were conceived

By contrast, recycling, is a recovery operation by which waste materials are reprocessed into products, materials or substances whether for the original or other purposes. It includes the reprocessing of organic material but does not include energy recovery and the reprocessing into materials that are to be used as fuels or for ‘backfilling’ operations after excavation.

The CIRCuIT wiki provides the following definition: “Circular construction, the application of the circular economy to the construction industry, aims to close building material loops by reusing, sharing, leasing, repairing, refurbishing, upcycling or recycling rather than continuing the traditional take-make-consume-dispose process. It is about considering how to maximise the lifespan and reusability of entire buildings or materials at the very start of the design process.”

Circular Construction in Regenerative Cities (CIRCuIT) is a collaborative project running from 2019-2023 and involves 31 ambitious partners across the built environment chain in Copenhagen, Hamburg, the Helsinki Region and Greater London. Funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme, the project will support the creation of regenerative cities by implementing sustainable and circular construction practices.

A material passport is a document (or set of documents) describing all the materials that are included in a product or construction. It consists of a set of data on the defined characteristics of materials in products, which give them value for recovery, recycling and re-use.

A further explanation of the material passport concept from Orms’ work is available here:

There are many ways to categorise or classify construction products and other forms of data that is used in a construction project. This classification helps to allow more consistency between companies and organisations which can lead to more shared language between stakeholders.

Classifying information in a unified way is also an enabler of a circular economy, since it can help ensure that products, components and materials are better understood throughout the lifecycle of a building and less likely to be classed as “waste”.

Since the concept of the Material Reuse Portal is to create a single location to find reusable materials, it requires a method of categorising materials that isn’t dependent on the platforms that it looks to bring together or ‘aggregate’.

For the Material Reuse Portal we have chosen to categorise materials using the Uniclass system which was developed by a UK organisation (NBS) but is used internationally in 100 countries. In line with the international standard BS EN ISO 12006-2, the system is also compatible with BIM or Building Information Modelling, which is increasingly being adopted across a building’s lifecycle including design, construction, operation and demolition.

In future, having alignment with a classification system will make specifying used or reclaimed materials and products for new projects easier, by mirroring processes carried out to specify new items and using the same short codes.

For a full list of the detailed NBS Uniclass specification please see here.

Top level categories in the Material Reuse Portal, from NBS Source:

  • General Building products
  • Plumbing fixtures and accessories
  • Fittings, furnishings and equipment
  • Structure
  • Coverings, coatings and finishes
  • Walls and barriers
  • Stairs and ramps
  • Doors, windows and hatches
  • Roofs, ceilings and soffits
  • Communications, security and safety
  • Ventilation, air conditioning and space heating
  • Signage and signaling
  • Plants and animals
  • Plumbing and waste disposal
  • Ponds, swimming pools, bunds and tanks
  • Electrical power and lighting
  • Lifts, elevators and escalators

BIM is a process for creating and managing information on a construction project throughout its whole life cycle.