Last edited 20 Dec 2021

End of life potential

The UK construction industry is the largest consumer of resources, requiring more than 400 million tonnes of material a year (ref. Davis Langdon). 32% of landfill waste comes from the construction and demolition of buildings.

It is important therefore that steps are taken to ensure waste is minimise during construction, and the potential of buildings and their components is maximised at the end of life of a particular phase of use.

End of life (EOL) refers to the final stages of a product or material’s phase of use. The treatment and disposal of construction materials once they have reached their end of life is an increasingly important issue as steps are taken to try and handle them in as efficient a way as possible that minimises waste, carbon emissions and the use of landfill sites.

A site waste management plan (SWMP) can be used to set out how materials will be managed efficiently and disposed of during the construction of the works, explaining how the re-use and recycling of materials will be maximised.

For more information, see Site waste management plan.

In terms of the end of life potential of a material, there are several options available:

Considering these issues during the design and construction of a building will help maximise its end of life potential. For example:

See Future proofing construction for more information.

It is important that consideration of these issues is recorded, including a list of building elements and how they will be best reused/reclaimed/recycled and instructions for the deconstruction of elements; otherwise it is possible that buildings will simply be demolished at the end of their life, because knowledge about their potential has been lost.

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