Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Reusing wood the size of Oosterpark

Research by AUAS and Metabolic reveals the impact of wood released from housing corporations' renovation projects in Amsterdam: "This park would need 30 years to produce all the wood that becomes available here."

7 Jun 2021 00:00 | Faculty of Technology

Wood, metal, plastic, stone: many materials come available in renovation projects. But a clear overview of amounts and quality is lacking. Which is unfortunate, because they offer opportunities for reuse. A material flow analysis by housing corporations Ymere and Rochdale, carried out by the Amsterdam University of Applied Science (AUAS) and Metabolic, expert in the field of circular construction and material use, shows that a lot of wood is released from building maintenance and renovations. A material that still too often ends up in the waste incineration plant, while it has a high reuse potential. The research is a first step for the housing corporations to do more with the wood that is released from their renovations.

The figures do not lie, a total of 281 m3 of wood could be obtained from a selection of 12 Amsterdam renovation projects of housing corporations Ymere and Rochdale. That is equivalent to the wood that a forest the size of the Amsterdam Oosterpark takes 30 years to produce. More than 60% of this wood is burned, which causes 110,270 kg of CO2 emissions; the same as the annual energy and heat-related emissions of 29 households. When we realize that this is only a small selection of the renovation projects in the Netherlands, it shows in concrete terms how great the impact of the built environment is, says Nico Schouten, Green building consultant at Metabolic.

Wood for circular applications in the Robot Studio

The analysis shows that a lot of wood is released from window frames and doors in particular, which offers opportunities for circular applications, says Tony Schoen, project leader of the Circular Wood for the Neighborhood research project. “We are learning how to process this type of wood at the Robot Studio, using industrial robots. The plan is to use the robots to make small prototypes, illustrating practical cases connected to real renovation projects, in which we could make the biggest impact. We think we can process the wood efficiently with robots, while manual processing would be far too expensive.”

Hout herproductie
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Students and researchers from AUAS can start designing in the Robot Studio with the residual flows, which ensures that the applications are easily scalable, explains Schouten of Metabolic. "The dismantling of products and design with residual flows is an important step to minimize the impact of the construction sector. And robotic techniques are essential to do this locally."

Digital marketplace and designer platform

In the long term, the AUAS wants to investigate and "master" the entire chain from wood collection to processing in new applications, concludes Marta Malé-Alemany, head of the Robot Studio. “In this project we mainly look at the potential of two housing corporations, and we are already realizing the benefits that would emerge from a more intense collaboration towards circular applications. For instance, coordinating the planning and logistics of building renovations by areas, may unleash wooden materials for urban applications that benefit several corporations in that area. To start, we will further investigate the technical steps in collaboration with the wood processing companies to make sure our ideas from wood processing to circular design applications can be implemented within the current industry.”

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More information Circular Wood for the Neighborhood

The AUAS is implementing the Circular Wood for the Neighborhood project (RAAK public project by Regieorgaan SiA) together with Ymere, Rochdale, Metabolic, TU Delft and other partners. The project is carried out by the AUAS Digital Production Research Group, where research is being conducted into how advanced design and production methods (also known as 'Digital Production') can be used to address societal issues such as the circular transition . The group works on Research and Education activities at the Robot Studio.

Metabolic does a lot of work in the Netherlands on mapping material flows and investigating the reuse potential of materials. For example, they have mapped the national consumption and disposal of the Dutch construction sector for the Economic Institute for Construction (EIB) and they work a lot on urban mining at national and regional level. They also do this on a smaller scale for area development and construction projects. They now use the knowledge they have acquired over the years as background information for Circular Wood for the Neighborhood.