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UNIT #4 From Construction Waste to Sustainable Architecture

How to reduce waste, save resources and apply sustainable construction principles

This course unit strengthens participants’ understanding of the relation between the increasing generation of construction and demolition waste and the overuse of natural resources. It presents sustainable alternatives, such as recycling, material re-use, renovation instead of demolition, and the principles of circular economy. Experts explain why avoiding waste starts with sustainable architecture. The Training Messages address how it works.

1) Welcome Length: 6 min

In the WELCOME session, GIZ, Markus Delfs, Head of Cluster Sustainable Transition, and Cao Handuo, Technical Advisor, GIZ Beijing, introduce the contextual background. Dr. Daniel Krahl delivers a welcome message by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

The INTRODUCTION SESSION explains the overall course approach and its elements. It also contains a Thematic Course Introduction key note that provides background information and summarises training messages. Both are provided by the lead training advisor and course host, Monika Zimmermann.

3) Thematic City Video Length: 30 min

The THEMATIC CITY VIDEOS are an informational and inspirational form of knowledge input, based on the voices of experts, and illustrated by various projects. This THEMATIC CITY VIDEO illustrates key aspects of planning and designing buildings sustainably, clarifying the important role of public procurement in this endeavour. A handout with project profiles offers additional technical information.

A handout with project profiles offers additional technical information.

See underlined download link below. 

Lead expert:  Andrea Klinge, Architect and Head of Research at ZRS Architekten, leader of the EU research projects ‘[H]house’ (Healthier Life with Eco-innovative Components for Housing Constructions) and ‘RE4’ (REuse and REcycling of CDW materials and structures in energy efficient pREfabricated elements for building REfurbishment and construction); BSc Eng Architecture, MSc Architecture, Energy & Sustainability; specialized in sustainable construction

Free University of Berlin construction site, Berlin – Re-using building material

Based on Berlin’s policy of construction waste reduction, the reconstruction of this huge university building demonstrates that windows and doors made of valuable timber can be removed and stored, rather than demolished.

Interviewee: Wilhelm Unnerstall, Managing Director, Unnerstall Holzmarketing GmbH; forestry and timber industry consultant

Berlin’s waste, procurement and circular economy policies

In terms of construction waste reduction, Berlin is among the leading cities in Germany to have established mandatory regulation – including for their own procurement – a lively exchange of information, models and good practices, and networking with private actors.

Interviewee: Stefan Tidow, Permanent Secretary for the Environment and Climate Protection,Berlin Senate, Department for the Environment, Transport and Climate Protection

Headquarters and laboratory of ZRS architects, Berlin

This architectural office focuses on the use of eco-friendly building materials. ZRS architects are well-known for their innovative approach to integrating sustainable and reusable building materials, such as clay and timber into their designs. 

Interviewee: Andrea Klinge, Architect at ZRS Architekten

Cradle to Cradle, Berlin – Making circular economy real

This NGO aims to integrate the cradle-to-cradle principles into existing and planned buildings. The goal is to set new standards for recyclable innovations with a minimal carbon footprint. 

Interviewees: Anna Britz, Education Team Leader, and Isabel Gomez, Communications Team Leader

4) City Walk Video Length: 9 min

The CITY WALK offers an immersive city experience related to the course topic.  

The ‘City Walk in Bremen and Berlin on Concrete Recycling and Alternatives’   takes place on construction sites in Bremen and Berlin where material is recycled. How does the construction industry manage to reuse materials like concrete? What does it do with wood and clay?

5) Expert Talks Length: 45 min

The EXPERT TALKS session provides the opportunity to acquire a deeper understanding of the course content. The expert talks – all recorded in April and May 2021 – include PPT-supported lectures and an interview.

This session also includes a video from the C2C Center Berlin.

Host and Interviewer: Monika Zimmermann, Urban Sustainability Expert, former Deputy Secretary General of ICLEI

Andrea Klinge, Architect at ZRS architects, Leader of the EU research projects [H]house and RE4

Training from the C2C Education Centre.

6) Transfer & Application Length: 20-45 min

This element includes questions for participants to help them review and evaluate the information provided so far.  consider takeaways and reflect on possible transferability. The questionnaire can be completed individually or as part of guided teamwork.

7) Further Resources

This compilation of background information, studies, reports, websites, videos, etc.  lets participants find out more about selected themes related to the course topic. Whenever available, materials are provided in English – otherwise in German. The Project Profiles relating to the THEMATIC CITY VIDEO (see above), as well as a few other key documents, are included in full.