Circular economy in real estate: reuse of recycled aggregates

Circular economy: reuse of recycled aggregates for a building project

Within the framework of the Îlot Saint-Roch project, which aimed to transform a disused industrial site into a sustainable mixed-use neighbourhood, ABV Development assisted Immobel with the on-site recycling of aggregates from remediation and earthmoving operations with a view to reusing them directly in the new development.

Real estate, like other areas of activity, is called upon to integrate the principles of the circular economy. This can be done in various ways. Recently, ABV Development assisted Immobel, a real estate development company, in a project to rehabilitate a former industrial site into a mixed eco-responsible neighbourhood.

Upgrading old building materials into recycled aggregates 

This development in the heart of Nivelles, known as the Îlot Saint-Roch, involved a  remediation project to rehabilitate a disused site and a major earthworks project to give the site new functions. 

“During the earthworks, we found debris and old masonry blocks, as well as numerous concrete elements and gravels already present in the ground," explains Jean-Marc Lambert, partner at ABV Development. The question then arose as to how to avoid having to dispose of these elements by reusing them in the new project, by recycling the aggregates on site. We then supported Immobel in considering such a circular economy approach.

By considering remediation requirements early on in the design and planning phases of the project, the partners were able to assess the various sources of supply available to produce recycled aggregates on site.

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The various sources of recycled aggregates

“We identified three sources," explains Gaetan De Bloudts, Technical Director at Immobel. Firstly, there were the residues of the demolition products of the existing warehouses, with concrete and masonry elements. Secondly, there were buried masses, in this case the former foundations of the industrial site. Finally, through soil screening operations, it was also possible to recover the gravels present on the site. These elements were transformed, through screening and crushing operations, into quality recycled aggregates, free of wood, plaster and plastic residues.”

Read more - Removal of waste status (SSD) for recycled aggregates in the Walloon Region

Adapting the specifications to incorporate circular economy principles

With this in mind, Immobel was assisted by ABV Development, which was able to adapt the project specifications to include recycling operations.

“For each place where earthworks were planned, we specified the operations to be carried out in order to allow and optimise the reuse of the materials present on site through the new project," comments Jean-Marc Lambert. The approach, when considering the principles of the circular economy, is very interesting. It has enabled the recovery of a considerable volume of existing gravel on the site and, at the same time, reduced the number of lorries needed to excavate and dispose of the soil and to import new material to the site.”

This on-site recycling reduces the need to use raw materials from elsewhere, which often represents a considerable environmental cost.



Circular economy principles in real estate and carbon footprint reduction  

"For each of our projects, we conduct a study using a recognised method to assess the environmental impact of each of the products used in the development, including their CO2 footprint," states Gaetan De Bloudts. The use of locally recycled aggregates significantly minimises the environmental impact of our projects.”

In addition to this recycling approach, Immobel is also committed to the circular economy through the implementation of an urban mining programme.

“This lists all the materials, products and construction elements used in the buildings and likely to be used," continues the technical director. This data is shared at the level of an industry platform, with the aim of minimising the extraction of raw materials for construction in the future through the re-use of existing materials.”

Read more - Companies: measuring, reducing and offsetting CO2 emissions


Find out how ABV Development supported Immobel in this project to reuse recycled aggregates in pictures.


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