The project “Implementation of selective deconstruction projects” arose from the opportunity identified in acting in the process of selling products and services in the context of deconstruction of buildings, in a perspective of circular economy combined with the construction sector.

In a first phase, it is intended to demonstrate to the agents involved that the selective deconstruction of buildings is an economic, social and environmental asset. Subsequently, with the follow-up of the project, it is expected to implement this activity as something common and indispensable at the end of the useful life of a building or when there is the need to transform any building.

The Sustainable Construction Portal is already developing a model which fits the Portuguese reality for the deconstruction of buildings and that demonstrates the materials and products that can be reusable, or otherwise valued. After conquering the results on the added value of deconstruction and disseminating these same results, either to the municipalities or through training actions for professionals, it is intended that the presentation of a “deconstruction project” with the written and drawn pieces will come to be required by the municipalities, leading architects and other designers to contemplate this forecast in their projects. This will result in manufacturers and / or traders of construction products adapting them for this purpose. In the near future, the expected impact is that this process will become inherent in any process of new construction, demolition and / or rehabilitation of a building in Portugal.

To this end, based on research carried out on the subject in other countries, namely in Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, and on the experience of technicians in the area that it relied on, a set of 10 strategies for deconstructing buildings was listed, which will serve as a basis for the detailed writing of a manual for the deconstruction of buildings, in this new phase.

These strategies are already being disseminated among professionals in the field (architects and civil engineers) through training actions already carried out: two in Lisbon, and planned (until June): two in the North of the country and another in Lisbon.


The construction sector is one of the sectors highlighted in PAEC, due to the intensive use of primary resources, low material productivity and low level of circularity that the sector involves in Portugal. This project has as its final objective to counter this trend. The key areas of application focus on the rehabilitation, construction and demolition of buildings, the reuse of building materials and components, construction solutions and the valuing of materials, from a perspective inherent to any buildings’ construction, rehabilitation or demolition project.

The implementation of deconstruction projects in buildings allows the closing of the cycle of products used in the building. A closed cycle, similar to the “cradle to cradle” model, is an analogy with the biological metabolism present in nature, where “waste” is transformed into “food”. Also known as technical metabolism, this endless cycle turns reused and recycled waste into “nutrients” (in new materials or uses) for new buildings. By encouraging reuse and recycling, it turns them into new resources, reducing the need to produce new products using raw materials, thus increasing the incorporation of waste into new materials, thereby generating savings.

The general objectives of this project focus on: the identification of social, economic and environmental benefits of deconstruction as a viable alternative to demolition; the efficiency of the deconstruction project as a strategy to close the construction cycle; the creation and replication of a model that is an integral part of any licensing process for the construction, rehabilitation and demolition of buildings. These objectives fall under the different levels of action of the PAEC, as it aims to contribute to increasing the reuse of products, reducing the production of waste and contributing to the design of products with multiple useful lives (less obsolescence), since the focus is always on reuse and recovery instead of new products made from virgin raw materials. By involving the municipalities, through the examples of two real cases for the deconstruction of buildings and through awareness and training actions, the project is collaborating in the development of guidelines for local actions.

It is estimated that more than 50% of solid waste generated by all human activities comes from construction (CIB). Closing the construction cycle, through the implementation of deconstruction projects, will increase the life cycle of raw materials; reduce the cost of materials (when this chain is mature) and reduce the incorporated energy and carbon emissions of the construction industry.

The environmental impact generated will consequently be reduced, in addition to creating value in the production chain at various levels, namely through:

  • “Circular” design / redesign of products and processes: it will generate a less resource-intensive process, giving priority to renewable and non-hazardous materials, as well as the reuse of recovered raw materials;
  • Buildings will become more adaptable and easier to reuse, allowing components to be “modularized” for easy disassembly and recovery;
  • Useful applications of by-products and waste, in conjunction with schemes such as eco-labels or environmental product declarations, will be defined later on;
  • Trend for companies to opt for more efficient production models (reduction on the consumption of raw materials and energy), to use more efficient network systems and resource productivity (e.g. electric mobility coupled with logistics);

New business models focused on the maintenance, repair, reconditioning and remanufacturing of products – downcycling (process of converting waste into new materials or products of lower quality / reduced functionality) or upcycling (“creative reuse”, process of converting waste into new materials or products with higher added value) – and associated efficient collection systems and initiatives to combat obsolescence;

  • Business strategies between entities which collaborate in the efficient use of resources in order to improve their joint economic performance, with positive consequences for the natural system;
  • Sensibilization and social involvement, recognizing the importance and need to act also in the field of learning and awareness of civil society, including as eg the development of curricular programs, teaching materials, informative events, workshops and other resources that support awareness for the efficient usage of resources, from dematerialization to extension of life cycle, efficient consumption and “closing the cycle” of resources;

With the completion of this project, not only professionals from the sector will be influenced, but also the general public, contributing to the education of citizens towards making environmentally conscious choices of goods and services.

The EU protocol on CDWs contains a relevant set of guidelines that aims to improve their entire management, while driving the recycling and reuse of these materials. EU countries will be able to benefit from the opportunities offered by the pan-European CDW market, valued at around 7.5 billion euros, reflecting the huge economic and social impacts made available by the management and recycling of this type of waste in their internal economies, namely, and among others, by creating thousands of new jobs.

The EU hopes that, by 2020, the target of 70% valorisation of CDW will be reached. Therefore, increasing and strengthening confidence in materials coming from CDW is essential throughout the value chain and requires the involvement of different stakeholders, from waste management operators to construction companies, to construction materials’ producers and public entities at local, regional and national level.

This work also foresees the involvement of universities and polytechnic institutes, through awareness raising actions for students in courses related to the construction sector, in order to influence future decision makers. It is also expected to count on the contribution of university researchers for the writing of two manuals, disseminating them amongst the student and scientific community. The collaboration of publishers and print-shops, for the dynamization and dissemination of information are indispensable.

When meeting the objectives and goals defined in the PAEC, the project should be seen as an economic and sustainability advantage, which generates benefits in the medium-long term, both for those who practice what is promoted, and for the community in general.


Among the 17 objectives set by the UN until 2030, this project will have its contributions, namely with regards to:

  • Substantial reduction in waste production through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse, since prevention is completely addressed in this project – by creating a deconstruction project aiming to enhancing the value of materials and components from end-of-life buildings;
  • Disassociates economic growth from environmental degradation, since by boosting new markets and new services in the area of CDW, it is generating savings in a sustainable way;
  • Production and consumption in this area tend to be more sustainable, since the CDW market will be widely valued, while raising awareness and educating people towards a more sustainable consumption of construction materials;
  • Ensures sustainable production and consumption standards for construction materials. The implementation of deconstruction projects will influence the entire sector in a perspective of new consumption habits and sustainable production, regarding construction materials.
  • Reduction of polluting emissions, since by stimulating the reuse of end-of-life buildings and valuing existing materials, emissions will be avoided in the manufacture and transport of new products and in the construction of new buildings;
  • It will be an incentive for companies, especially those with materials and products for construction, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate information on sustainability in the development of new products;
  • Encourages the establishment of multisectoral partnerships, in order to share knowledge, expertise, technology and resources;
  • Strengthens scientific research, boosting the increase in the number of workers in the area of research and development.

Consequently, the awareness of reuse and not the disposal of materials and components for construction, will increase environmental awareness for the use of reusable packaging or biodegradable and / or compostable plastics.

By getting informed on the characteristics regarding the reuse or recycling of the materials used, in a deconstruction project, one is immediately reducing the use of materials derived from petroleum, as they are materials with no market for their recycling.

Sustainable Construction Portal, September 2018

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