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Project objectives

The project aims to support the transformation to a more resource-efficient economy in Europe, in line with the European Union’s Circular Economy Package and with the purpose to mitigate the impacts of Climate Change. The project focuses on increasing the share of reused steel components from the current rates, which are in the range of 11% for heavy structural sections, 15% cladding panels, 37% for sandwich panels and 11% for purlins in a few Western European countries (mostly UK), but much lower in other member states. While recycling rate of steel increased from 93% to 96% between 2000 and 2014, reuse rates are reported to be stagnating in the same period. If the environmental burden of all processes associated with a life cycle are analysed, it can be seen that e.g. steel production typically accounts for 75% of the energy consumption and a large portion of the CO2 emissions. The largest shares are corresponding to the intermediate production phase to arrive to semi-finished products (e.g. coils, plates, sections). Fabrication only accounts for a smaller part of the energy and CO2 burden. Hence, there is a significant potential of saving if semi-finished products are reused by remanufacturing.

The particular objectives of the project are to

  • Extend the service life of building elements by reusing them after their removal from the original structure,
  • Reduce the raw material and energy consumption of steel sector, and embodied impacts of the steel buildings,
  • Develop the design guidance for the successful planning of assembled structures with reused elements and the buildings that will be deconstructed in the future to maximize the reuse potential of their elements and systems,
  • Establish the quality verification process, testing and evaluation methods, and develop the related services and business models in order to enable reuse of building elements recovered from the demolition or renovation activities,
  • Improve the overall building performance by improvement of multi-material and multifunctional hybrid systems reusability,
  • Demonstrate the reuse process/technologies, related circular economy models and environmental benefits on selected case studies,
  • Involve all actors in the product supply chain to actively participate and contribute to the attainment of the project objectives by direct collaboration and workshops.

The PROGRESS project is targeting significant material streams within the steel sector. With many existing single-storey steel buildings (SSB) components already highly reusable (due to the reversible joining and assembly methods), it is estimated that 80% of current SSB structural steel could be reused instead of recycled. However, only about 5% is reused now. It should be noted that the building components from the main competing materials such as concrete and timber are usually difficult to reuse if they are not fitted with steel connectors. Therefore, the steel construction industry should be the forerunner in the reuse area since the buildings resource efficiency will depend largely on steel-based innovations.


Arrangement of typical single-storey building (SSB)

The majority of existing steel low-rise buildings can be deconstructed into elements such as cold-formed or hot-rolled sections, sheets, panels, frames or truss girders (see Figure 7). These components have very high reuse potential, but require verification of the material quality, dimensions and tolerances in order to be included in new building projects. The future reuse of modern buildings, however, may be different, because those structures are increasingly designed as systems and their design information can be easily maintained for instance as a building information model (BIM). Therefore, the PROGRESS project addresses both topics and its results will cover existing and future SSBs. Many of the project outcomes will be directly applicable to all constructional steelwork and with some modifications to the timber and prefabricated concrete elements as well.