15 Jun 2020

Circular renovation of the housing stock – Drive 0 project

The activities of the Drive 0 project, co-funded by the EU Horizon 2020 Programme, are in full swing. The 2nd consortium meeting was recently held online and given that the original plan was for representatives of all partner organizations to meet in Dublin, the online meeting saved approximately 7.5 tonnes of CO2 (source), which is about as much CO2 emissions as produced by one EU resident per year.

The DRIVE 0 project follows three strategies for the development, implementation and promotion of the circular renovation of the existing housing stock:

  • Reuse and recycling of locally available materials through urban mining;
  • Use of new bio materials (e.g. wood, hemp, flax);
  • A combination of the above two circular renovation measures.

Find further detail on the project approach and aims in the project flyer and website, while the activities delivered so far are presented in the first project newsletter.

IRI UL researcher Gregor Cerinšek, Drive 0’s ethics advisor, and the project coordinator prepared the first version of the ethics manual for project activities. The document addresses issues of privacy and data protection in the context of project activities in seven EU locations. In these demo cases, Drive 0 researchers will work with occupants of residential buildings and monitor different indoor environment parameters, building properties and energy use. The handbook will guide the project staff when they interact with the occupants of the buildings which will be renovated, and when they collect or process their data in any way.

The project represents only a piece in the mosaic of the circulation of materials in the EU. The European Commission recently presented the Circular Economy Action Plan as one of the main pillars of the European Green Deal. The activities proposed in the action plan are in line with the objectives of the Drive 0 project, and cover the entire product life-cycle, circular economy processes and the overarching goal of retaining materials and resources in the European economy for as long as possible. The project partners are convinced that the proposed measures support the decarbonisation of buildings by introducing solutions based on circularity and durability of buildings (see Drive 0’s press release).

To concretize the project’s goals, the Slovenian project partner Knauf Insulation organized a technical workshop in its KI Experience Centre, a regional deminstration and training centre which is a case study of sustainable construction on the European level. The workshop participants dealt with concrete challenges of the project’s industry partners and looked for opportunities to transform their products on a circular basis. We identified the required support, the local drivers for circular renovation, and determined the plan for the implementation of investments in the Drive 0 demo buildings.

However, if we want to know whether we are on the right path to circularity in a particular product or process, clear measurable indicators are required. Therefore, one of the first results of the project was a report comparing circularity measurements with a review of existing methodologies and approaches. All seven Drive 0 demo cases, each of which is specific, are constantly in sight to ensure that our approach is robust enough and applicable. In the approach, we connect the environmental assessment through the built-in energy and CO2, the building circularity indicator and the so-called Design for Disassembly (DfD) criteria. The report shows the demo cases’ built-in mass and energy, the proportions of raw materials that can be obtained by urban mining, and the indications of DfD as guidelines for the development of demonstration activities. The installed energy is between 1.5-7.6 GJ / m2, the built-in CO2 between 0.15 and 0.73 tCO2 / m2. The share of returnable raw materials in terms of installed energy is between 20 and 85 percent, depending on the case.

Example illustrates the complexity of raw material flows in the Netherlands (source)

Slovenian Drive 0 industry partner Knauf Insulation already recycles a significant share of raw materials for mineral wool. Mineral wool contains over 45 percent of recycled materials (mineral fiber residues), which are returned to the production process through various technological processes. The product can be fully recycled at the end of its life-cycle, which is at least 50 years. Among the production process wastes is also iron, which must be released from the kiln every 1.5 hours. Because it is a very pure form of iron, it is sold to a medical equipment manufacturer, which is an example of industrial symbiosis. Drive 0’s first Slovenian demo case is already under construction (envelope) and the activities in the second demo case are already underway – thermography was performed and sensors were installed.