Could there be further life for a waste material?

Keltbray has been supporting CIRCuIT in their research activities, a research project aimed at applying more of a circular economy approach to demolition timber.

CIRCuIT (Circular Construction in Regenerative Cities) is a collaborative project, funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme, supporting the creation of regenerative cities by implementing sustainable and circular construction practices.

A few months ago, the Sustainability Team at Keltbray were contacted by partners of CIRCuIT to scope out whether any of our demolition projects would be able to provide some suitable timber, to study whether it can be ‘upcycled’ back into a useful construction material rather than being considered waste.

The Research & Development (R&D) project is looking at the potential for the timber to be remanufactured into glulam columns and beams to be used in structural parts of buildings in the future.

Following their contact, Keltbray got in touch with its site teams to see if they would be at suitable programme stages and could help provide some suitable timber sourced from demolition/soft strip activities.

Teams from the Bermondsey Project and the Elephant & Castle Town Centre Redevelopment then got involved and helped source suitable timber from areas of site. This also involved arranging the classification testing to make sure the material was safe for research purposes, and finally the logistics and timings to be able to participate in providing the demolition timber.

Grimshaw Architects, working with Simple Works Engineering, the team leading the R&D project for CIRCuIT, outlined the following R&D project stages:

  • Characterising the pieces of wood, to check the quality of input, properties will be checked and timber will be tagged
  • After all the wood is characterised, it will be taken to a Glulam manufacturer to process it and produce Glulam beams (for anyone that doesn’t know – glulam is a construction manufactured material made from timber layers and adhesives.)
  • Then, after the timber is processed into Glulam beams & columns, these Glulam beams will be officially tested by BRE (Building Research Establishment) to confirm if the beams made from demolished timbers can successfully function as structural material for building.

Once this has been completed, Grimshaw plan on getting back in touch to share the results and incorporate Keltbray’s insights on potential scaling and the success factors needed to achieve a shift in industry practice.

Keltbray is excited by the prospect of contributing to advances in technology and logistics to extend the life of materials which would have normally been considered waste, and in turn contribute to new alternatives in procurement and circularity of materials.