Development and validation of the concept of circularity, applied to modular prefabricated construction

The construction sector is one of the key sectors of the economy, among which more natural resources are mobilized and more waste is generated. Achieving reduction of construction waste is possible using alternative materials that can be reused, remanufactured, and recycled. This chain process is known as economic circularity. The circularity of materials helps to minimize the use of resources and the creation of waste, as well as to reduce pollution and carbon emissions.

The CircularBuild research project aims to evolve the concept of prefabricated modular construction products to the circular economy by researching alternative materials that allow the construction of more sustainable panels. Modular panels must allow a circular production cycle, being reused, and used as raw material for manufacturing new panels.

Prefabricated modular systems are restricted to the application area of residential housing of one or two floors and with flat roof, designed so that it does not compromise the mechanical properties (flexibility, resistance, etc.), fire safety (reaction to fire and resistance to fire) and the performance of the building in terms of energy efficiency.

The benefit of this project in the fire safety sector may better understand the fire performance of sustainable materials. It will help improve prescriptive fire safety guidelines. Also, the project will increase fire safety awareness among the parties involved (building designer and engineers) in both the design and execution process. Improved strategies and methods for extinguishment efforts by the fire and rescue service is also in focus in the project.

The project consists six main activities, (1) Study and definition of the functional requirements of the alternative materials, (2) Adaptation of the productive process and industrial validation, (3) Functional validation assays, (4) “CircularBuild” Construction, (5) Promotion and Dissemination of Results and (6). Project Management. RISE Fire research is directly involved in the activities 1, 3, 5 and 6.

RISE Fire Research’s main focus in the project is validation of the fire technical properties of CircularBuild solutions and alternative materials. The focus is on fire resistance of panels and prefabricated modules, compared with conventional materials. Mechanical stability, flame spread, thermal insulation properties and emission of flammable gases will be studied.

CircularBuild is funded by EEA Grants, under the Environment, Climate Change and Low Carbon Economy program, project number PT-ENVIRONMENT-0023. CircularBuild will be carried out over a two-year period, starting 1st October 2020. The project is coordinated by Concexec - Arquitectura Lda, and project partners are LNEC, RISE Fire Research and Cluster Habitat.

Project website: (link) 

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