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Digital tool White ReCapture makes it easier to reuse building parts

Words:
Stephen Cousins

Digitised information from laser scans and expert analysis combine to boost use of repurposed building elements and reduce demolition

Laser scans of buildings are analysed by White’s team to identify materials that can be reused or sold.
Laser scans of buildings are analysed by White’s team to identify materials that can be reused or sold. Credit: White Arkitekter

Global environmental and economic pressures are underlining the need for much greater reuse of products and materials from buildings slated for demolition or refurbishment.

A new service from White Arkitekter digitises information on reusable materials contained in 3D laser scans to help projects and clients drive down their carbon footprints and costs.

White ReCapture was launched to more closely integrate materials reuse into the design process. 3D laser scans are analysed by staff with specialist knowledge of sustainability to identify any materials and parts that can be effectively reused in new production or rebuilding projects. The information is then added to BIM to make it more transparent and accessible.

The service is suitable to map reuse opportunities in retrofit or extension projects or to identify materials that can be sold from buildings slated for demolition.

Laser scans of buildings are analysed by White’s team to identify materials that can be reused or sold.
Laser scans of buildings are analysed by White’s team to identify materials that can be reused or sold. Credit: White Arkitekter

The combination of digitisation and specialist knowledge is what makes the service unique, explains Niklas Eriksson, head of White ReCapture: ‘We use our competence as reuse and environmental specialists to analyse the scans and run workshops with clients to define building products that can be repurposed for either economic or aesthetic purposes. The ability to digitalise the reuse potential makes the process much more time and cost efficient than was previously possible.’

ReCapture has launched in Sweden, where White is based, and could soon come onstream in the UK where the firm is looking for potential clients with sustainable ambitions. 

The first live project involves the assessment of an existing hospital in Stockholm, based on as-built scans captured for the developer client.

‘The hospital had been rebuilt and extended many times with multiple sets of drawings, so the client wanted to have a clean slate and create an as-built model,’ says Eriksson. ‘When it heard about this new service it wanted to look at how it could reuse materials. During the summer, workshops will define the types of products that can be reused within the hospital on future projects.’

Materials reuse information in BIM could help build a more circular economy.
Materials reuse information in BIM could help build a more circular economy. Credit: White Arkitekter

According to Eriksson, low hanging fruit, based on studies by the Swedish Environmental Institute, include doors, glass partition walls and ceiling tiles, 'anything that can either be easily refitted or improved with a new layer of paint.'

It’s expected that the service will help projects in Sweden meet sustainability goals set out in a national roadmap for the construction sector. Materials reuse data can be categorised based on the national rating system or on clients’ own internal climate goals.

An online marketplace where reused materials can be sold to the construction sector is being developed by the Swedish Environmental Institute and data can be categorised to integrate with the system.

According to Eriksson, maximising the reuse potential of existing materials requires a shift in mindset for everyone involved in a project, including a good relationship with demolition companies, and a move away from new build to ‘rethink and reuse’.

BIM offers an opportunity to make the process even more efficient in future, he adds, such as the ability to drag and drop into models any 3D BIM objects of reusable products and associated data and properties.

‘Ideally you will just click to see a precise image of the door that you're thinking of using, immediately see that it fits in terms of size and appearance, and access information on things like CO2 or cost, so there are no second thoughts about suitability,’ Eriksson concludes.

> Swedish Environmental Institute, include doors, glass partition walls
> and ceiling tiles, “anything that can either be easily refitted or
> improved with a new layer of paint.”

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