Blog

Circular demolition

Author: Germien Cox, Madaster

Because of the move into new housing, in May 2018, a substantial number of Erasmus MC’s buildings were vacated. This concerns around 80,000 m2 of real estate that can no longer be used efficiently and, therefore, needs to be either renovated or demolished. It is Erasmus MC’s ambition that this leads to a minimum amount of waste and that products are reused as much as possible. This has set a high bar for ‘circular demolition’. To organise this in the most effective way, the material passport of Madaster will be used. We asked Taco van Iersel, Programme manager at Erasmus MC, who is mainly working on Tranche II, which also includes the demolition project.

Tranche II, part of the programme on integral construction (Programma Integrale Bouw (PIB)), with the subtitle demolish, renovate and create space (Slopen, renoveren and ruimte creëren), is in fact a collective name for all the demolition and renovation projects of Erasmus MC that are related to the surplus of real estate created by the hospital’s move into the new housing. How is it possible that so much real estate is becoming redundant? Taco van Iersel answers: ‘Over the course of time, these buildings have come to the end of their lifetime, and they no longer match Erasmus MC’s care profile. In the old buildings, for example, patients would need to share their room with others, whereas in the new situation there are only single rooms. The old buildings have truly become redundant and are written off. Added fact is that those old buildings are literally in full view of the newbuild, which is not to the benefit of the view from the new patient rooms.’ Taco van Iersels’ message is clear. The old buildings must go. But not in the traditional way of demolition. Everything needs to be demolished in the most circular way possible. This means that the materials in the buildings to be demolished must be reused as much as possible. ‘Because,’ Taco continues, ‘We are here only once, and why should we discard everything?’ Whether we call it Cradle2Cradle, Blue Economy or Circularity, let’s all just use everything we have in an economical, responsible way.’

Erasmus MC, as a government institution, is obligated to award contracts for projects such as the circular demolition project via EU public procurement. The tender process was led by Synarchis, together with engineering firm BOOT, which resulted in awarding the contract to the party with the highest score on material reuse. The list of reusable materials, in this case, was available online via the Madaster material passport. Taco van Iersel: ‘For us, it is important that we can independently offer the materials that become available within those contracts awarded to the building contractors. The circular ambitions of the building contractors as stated in their tenders, is included via the material passport and their offer. It is subsequently up to them to make this work. The Madaster material passport is in line with this and, moreover, gives us the opportunity to offer transparency to the market.’ Did financial aspects also play a role, in addition to independence and transparency? Taco van Iersel responds: ‘We hoped that reuse would translate into a more profitable offer. When materials can be reused, this often also provides contractors with financial benefits, which in turn enables them to tender at a lower price than that of competitors who throw away all the old materials.’

The Madaster material passport enables us to provide clear insight into the circular value and, in this way, the market ultimately determines the optimal price-quality ratio of all offers. It was good to see that a larger degree of reuse also really translated into a more favourable offer.’

The company Dusseldorp Infra, Sloop en Milieutechniek scored the highest with regard to the reuse list and was, thus, awarded the contract. They have also indicated that they will be able to recycle and reuse more materials than would be required by the Erasmus MC. Is it clear what this reuse would mean? In cases of such tenders, how do demolition companies look for buyers for the materials on the reuse list, in order to score the most points? Taco van Iersel answers: ‘As a contract issuer, we would first need to know whether—and, if so, in which areas—a contractor plans to reuse materials. However, the way in which they will organise this reuse is not our direct concern. As I understand, Dusseldorp will approach buyers themselves, also using insert.nl where they will actively advertise the materials.’ This is a marketplace for demolition companies; have some of the demolition materials from the Erasmus MC project also been purchased by Woonstad Rotterdam for one of their housing projects via this online marketplace? Taco van Iersel responds: ‘Via Cirkelstad and the municipality of Rotterdam we coincidentally came into contact with a housing association in our area that was interested in buying materials. Although it is not our aim to approach such parties ourselves, of course we brought them into contact with the building contractor.’

Circular demolition does not appear all that complicated. In fact, isn’t it simply coupling the demand for materials to suppliers? Taco van Iersel answers: ‘Creating supply is pretty easy in this way, but creating demand is equally interesting. Partners are needed along the entire chain, if demand and supply are to be coupled truly effectively. We can specify in our plans that we like to see x% in circular building materials, but those materials do need to be available, too. This calls for other parties to be involved—for example, those who take the responsibility for the dismantling and assembling and quality of products and materials. The Madaster material passport provides an important key on the supply side, and I am confident that the demand side of the market will also work seriously on providing such materials.’

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