Low-cost smart windows
Smart windows, varying the amount of light coming through the glass, can now be produced economically
A European project aimed at improving the monitoring, treatment, and recycling of building materials to reduce construction’s environmental impact.
Buildings are born, grow, and die like living beings. However, the ecological footprint of their passage through this world is far from ideal. Brick, concrete, metal, plastic... At the time of demolition such debris tend to end up in a landfill or, in the best of cases, are used as filler. These materials are called Construction and Demolition Waste (CDW). In the European Union alone, each year 461 million tons of these compound wastes are generated, and in many cases they are difficult to recycle. Their treatment lacks a holistic approach that takes into account the entire process of buildings from the moment they go up until the end of their useful lives.
And that is the H in HISER (Holistic Innovative Solutions for an Efficient Recycling, or Innovative Holistic Solutions for Efficient Recycling). It is a European project that teamed up numerous companies and research centers such as ACCIONA, Tecnalia Research & Innovation, Lafarge Centre de Recherche, University of Leiden or ADR Technology, among others.
The mission? To bring the principles of the circular economy to the process of construction and demolition of buildings and infrastructures. That is, taking maximum advantage of the resources and producing zero waste.
So far that’s all well and good, but what exactly does HISER consist of? This circular economy project includes three main areas of focus.
HISER is now a reality thanks to the first tests on the ground. Following a pilot test carried out in Finland, where the Finnish State Forests Division (Metsahallitus) contracted the construction of new environmentally-friendly huts for storing wood by using WPC (wood and plastic composite) that integrates clean wood, painted wood and pieces of medium-sized composites together with rock wool from recycled materials, ACCIONA has made its own demonstration in Madrid. There, it is implementing technological solutions based on the circular economy principles of the project by using gypsum fractions and stony fractions of CDWs.
In this case, the construction of two modules is under way. The first one makes use of concrete panels from recycled concrete and gypsum panels with a 7.5% of recycled gypsum. The second one, as the reference model, uses conventional concrete and gypsum panels. The built modules basically comprise a steel structure tethered to a slab of concrete with premade concrete panels that become the surrounding walls of the building, embedded in a steel frame and standing on top of the concrete slab laid on the floor.
The physical parameters of both modules will be monitored under real conditions, measuring the energy efficiency and comfort provided by the said concrete and gypsum panels. Temperature, warmth flow, energy consumption and moisture will be the main ones.
The composition of the concrete has been customized to include recycled sand and gravel from a CDW-treatment plant with an automatic classification system that works with sensors.
Sources: HISER Project