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Circular economy and office fit-out: an analysis for office fit-out processes based on material flows

Casas Arredondo, Jorge Miguel; (2021) Circular economy and office fit-out: an analysis for office fit-out processes based on material flows. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The built environment is the most resource intensive sector of the economy, accounting for over a half of extracted materials and around one third of total waste generated. Within the built environment the most recurrent replacements of building materials and components take place during fit-out, which is the process of installing interior fittings, fixtures and finishes. These materials and components are more frequently replaced in non-domestic buildings, so non-domestic building fit-outs are responsible for recurrent consumption of materials and generation of waste. However, these processes tend to go unnoticed and unmeasured in the research about sustainable buildings. The present work aims to study this research gap and to analyse the potential for fit-outs to become more sustainable. The approach of this project ties in closely to the concept of circular economy, where materials are kept at their most useful state for as long as possible. This work analysed fit-out processes within UCL Estates and London through mixed research methods, including quantitative material flow analyses and the qualitative analysis of interviews. In total, 31 supply-chain stakeholders related to the fit-out industry were contacted and five fit-out case studies as well as two Waste Contractor case studies were considered. The structure of the fit-out supply chain was mapped out and the roles and interactions of the relevant stakeholders were analysed. Key materials and components installed and removed at fit-outs projects were defined while waste streams generated were measured, and their paths and final destinations were traced. A socio-technical analysis was developed for office and higher education institution building fit-outs and used to recognise key incentives and mechanisms that encourage higher rates of reuse, remanufacture and closed-loop recycling, from the design stage of building fit-outs and products to the treatment of wastes. It was concluded that the fit-out supply-chain generally showed a linear tendency in terms of both decisions and material flows, and a “reuse third party” in the supply chain showed to facilitate salvaging building components otherwise treated as waste. The rates of replacement for building products were generally shorter than their lifespans and the main barriers to potential reuse were both the lack of size standardisation and the lack of modular installation. Material flow analyses conducted for fit-out case studies showed that most waste streams were downcycled into products or uses that require inferior material quality and little waste was closed-loop recycled. Mixed waste was the highest-mass waste stream generated, followed by plasterboard and wood.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Circular economy and office fit-out: an analysis for office fit-out processes based on material flows
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10124803
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