Development of an innovative insulation fire resistant façade from the Construction and Demolition Waste

Construction and Demolition Waste (CDW) approximately represent one third of the total waste generated by economic activities and households, which in EU-28 are about 2.5-3.0 billion tonnes per year. Construction and Demolition Waste generation has increased by an impressive 300% between the years 2003-2013.

In Cyprus, the management of CDW is challenged by the following parameters:

  • The annual production of CDW in 2012 was 142,200 tonnes. It is believed that today this quantity is considerably higher, because of the rapid development of recent years and the demolition of several old buildings, making room for new construction.
  • These resources will be dramatically increased with a possible settlement of the current political issue.
  • Due to the small size of the island, landfill sites are becoming increasingly difficult to come by.
  • Natural aggregate resources are already very limited and the attempt to procure new quarrying sites places pressure on environmentally sensitive areas.
  • Existing environmental regulations encourage recycling, yet there is still much ground to be covered for recycling rates to reach the desired levels.

In Cyprus, the management of CDW appears to be underperforming, despite the fact that a comprehensive legislative framework concerning their management is in place since 2011. This deficiency can be attributed to a number of reasons, such as:

  • The general lack of skills and knowledge to organise effective systems of CDW management, and also the fact that the cost of recovery activities is higher than the prices of the current recycled end-product.
  • Apart from plastic, metal and paper, there are no significant recycling technologies to be applied to the construction waste in order to increase the salvage value of the building.
  • There is great potential for recycling and reusing CDW materials since some components have high resource value, however, present systems require the waste to be sorted manually, which is only effective with large particles.
  • The valorization of waste concrete and ceramics is difficult, if the materials are full in impurities with other materials.

Over the last decade in Europe, in an attempt to meet increasing accommodation needs, the construction activities were accelerated, in parallel to building rehabilitation activities targeting energy savings. According to a study carried out by the European Union, the high rate of household energy consumption over the past twenty years (250-300 Mtoe) is attributed to increased requirements for heating, cooling and ventilation that often stem from an unsatisfactory thermal insulation of buildings.

Further, in recent years, safety concerns in buildings, especially as these relate to fire protection, have witnessed an increasing attention, possibly as a result of a series of large-scale fires that have taken place in the last years, such as in the Mandarin Hotel in the UK (2018) and the Grenfell Tower in London (2017), both of which led to human casualties, major structural damages and serious consequences for the regional economies. It has been reported that the fire incidents in Europe have increased by a staggering 300% between the years 2010-2015. At the same time, the current market thermal insulation solutions consist of materials that are either combustible, or undergo spalling phenomena in case of fire incidents (such as cement based materials), or materials which they have high cost, or materials, the production of which carries an expensive environmental tag.

Project Objectives

The “Development of an innovative insulation fire resistant façade from the Construction and Demolition Waste” (DEFEAT) project rises in an attempt to tackle the aforementioned issues.  DEFEAT (INTEGRATED/0918/0052) was co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Republic of Cyprus through the Research & Innovation Foundation and it envisions to develop a pilot scale of an innovative separation method for CDW, develop a composite material also generated from CDW that will be characterized by low thermal conductivity, satisfactory mechanical properties, and fire resistance properties. The produced material will be able to be applied as a façade, either on existing or new construction projects.