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Last edited 24 Mar 2021
Design for deconstruction
Design for deconstruction (or design for disassembly) is an important part of green design and a consideration of the complete life-cycle of a structure. It includes provisions for the re-use of building components at the end of a structure's life. Design for deconstruction works alongside other considerations such as sustainable design and recycling.
The benefits of design for deconstruction include:
- Reduction in the whole-life environmental impact of a project.
- Minimising construction waste.
- Minimising costs.
- Helping the local economy.
- Reducing transportation.
- Reducing carbon impact.
- Minimising pollution.
- Reducing the quantity of materials being taken to landfill.
Ten common principles in the design for deconstruction process are:
- Design for prefabrication, preassembly and modular construction: Prefabricated units are easily deconstructed and can be transported in large units. Additionally, modular construction materials allow for large quantities to be transported in one journey.
- Simplify and standardise connection details: This allows for efficient construction and deconstruction and reduces the need for multiple tools.
- Simplify and separate building systems: Separating out the distribution systems within non-structural walls can allow for selective removal of the low-value components. Consolidating plumbing services will also reduce the lengths of pipe required.
- Consideration of worker safety: The design should aim to reduce potential hazards and the use of potentially hazardous materials.
- Minimise building parts and materials: The design should aim to minimise the amount of building materials and equipment required.
- Select fittings, fasteners, adhesives, sealants etc that allow for disassembly.
- Design to allow for deconstruction logistics: Small design tweaks can allow for significant improvements in waste-removal efficiency.
- Reduce building complexity: This will reduce costs and improve buildability as well as simplifying the deconstruction process.
- Design with reusable materials: Consideration of materials that are adaptable and will be useful in the future. Materials such as wood, steel members, brick and carpet tiles can easily be reused or refurbished.
- Design for flexibility and adaptability: The design should consider any future renovations or adaptations that may be required to extend the life of the building.
A detailed deconstruction plan should be produced and issued to all parties at the beginning of any contract to ensure that construction processes will allow the deconstruction plan to be successful. The plan should include:
- A statement of strategy for the building/project.
- A list of building elements and how they will be best reused/reclaimed/recycled.
- Instructions on the deconstruction of elements.
 Case study - Olympic and Paralympic Games Village, Stratford
During the London 2012 Olympics, temporary accommodation was required for 17,000 athletes. The design complied with the Code for Sustainable Homes (CfSH) Level 4 residential units. Following the games, the accommodation was retrofitted into new homes. Some of the key approaches to the design included:
- Cladding panels were interchangeable and generally full storey in height.
- The bathrooms, kitchens, facades and balconies were manufactured off-site.
- The partitions were movable so that spaces could be reconfigured.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki.
- Building Back Better: Circularity and BREEAM.
- Circular economy.
- Circular economy in the built environment.
- Cradle to cradle product registry system.
- Design for deconstruction, BRE modular show house.
- Design for deconstruction, office building.
- Design for deconstruction, ski slope.
- Design for maintenance.
- Design for manufacture and assembly.
- End of life potential.
- Kit house.
- Lean construction.
- Mean Lean Green.
- Modular buildings.
- Off-site prefabrication of buildings: A guide to connection choices.
- Recyclable construction materials.
- Reused construction products.
- Site waste management plan.
- Structure relocation.
- Structures at the end of their design life.
- Sustainable materials
 External references
- SEDA Design for Deconstruction guide.
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