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Building society

New guidance launched last Wednesday by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) at the Implementing Sustainable Procurement 2004 conference is designed to help all those involved in the building industry identify opportunities to increase the use of recycled content at the design, procurement and construction stages.

WRAP has produced the guidance, which covers both the commercial and house building sectors, following recommendations made by the Governments Sustainable Buildings Task Group earlier this year to set a minimum requirement for recycled content in construction projects of 10% of the materials value of the project.

The two reports provide practical information to help predict policy and environmental drivers for using higher recycled content and to quantify the potential to increase recycled content in common products. They also identify quick wins ways of achieving higher recycled content in buildings that are cost competitive.

The reports were launched at the Reducing Waste through Procurement conference workshop, organised by WRAP in co-operation with the Environment Agency and London Remade. More than 130 delegates attended the workshop, which explored how clients requirements in procurement of construction, highways and printed matter could drive materials efficiency without compromising cost, performance or wider sustainability.

David Moon, WRAPs procurement programme manager, emphasised the opportunities for the construction industry: Because the percentage requirement is set at a project level, contractors have complete flexibility to find the best and most cost-effective solution, he said.

By stimulating interest in best practice and increasing the value of recovered materials, the requirement will make it more economic for contractors to segregate and recycle materials in the future with the associated commercial and environmental benefits of diverting more material from landfill.

The WRAP procurement team has also been working with Defence Estates on its £1 billion barracks building programme, Single Living Accommodation Modernisation (SLAM), to determine how it would perform against the Governments 10% recommendation.

The assessment was carried out by consultants Scott Wilson, who worked with the main contractor Debut to examine all the options. Dr David Smith, project manager at Scott Wilson, said: This project demonstrates that the proposed requirements are realistic, and also that it is possible to determine recycled content using existing information sources.

The standard design of new barracks uses nearly 20% recycled and recovered materials, and opportunities have been identified which could increase this figure by a quarter, with no increase in cost or risk. David Moon, explained: The work showed that by restricting the analysis to higher-value items and focusing on well-known product areas, the cost of demonstrating compliance with a 10% requirement can be kept to a minimum a drop in the ocean for a project the size of SLAM.

The SLAM design is thought to be fairly typical of similar projects using steel-framed construction, and the results show that it should be possible to meet the 10% requirement using well-established products and materials, entailing no increase in risk.


The SLAM exercise was clearly a valuable one for all concerned and an excellent point of reference for other projects.

WRAP is already encouraging major projects to take a lead on the reports and will work with Whipps Cross University Hospital to increase the materials efficiency of their £300 million private finance initiative (PFI) building programme, following the PFI Project Boards decision to incorporate the 10% minimum requirement for recycled content in their tender specification.

In addition, the team is now collaborating with the Governments investment programme for secondary schools Building Schools for the Future to evaluate the potential for including higher

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