Why reuse building materials:
1. The ‘tender demands it’ argument
Over the past seven years, predominant reasons to choose eco-friendly building materials have been about design and ‘saving the planet’, and were mostly intrinsic and attached to specific people in a company.
In the last six months, however, we’ve seen a big change in the motivation of people reaching out to us. We see that architects, and in particular real estate developers, approach us because governments make it a hard request in their tenders when they sell land.
This is happening in The Netherlands in cities such as Amsterdam, Utrecht and Rotterdam, but we also hear similar arguments from our clients in London, Copenhagen and Hamburg, among others.
2. The environmental argument
Making the world a better place can be a very strong incentive, especially on a personal level. We hear the environmental argument mostly from private people and increasingly from architecture agencies, less still from real estate developers.
We call ourselves lucky that some private house owners reached out to us in the early years and offered us the chance to work together. Do you remember the house of waste in Rotterdam we built with architect duo Ferry and Nina? Or the Colourful Condo in Amsterdam for Martijn and Cecilia? Early adopters like them are key to innovation!
The construction industry is responsible for more than 30% of all waste in most European countries, we’re talking about roughly 850 million tonnes each year. It is also a sector with a long value chain, with companies that do not necessarily have the same interest.
With our WasteBasedBricks® we focus mainly on upcycling waste, but our mission is more broad than this: creating building materials that are 100% from waste and have a positive carbon impact on the world. Thank you for following our journey.
3. The design argument
Our creative director, Tom van Soest, completed his study at the Design Academy in Eindhoven. That is why design is at the core of our company.
We strongly believe that first and foremost, people want to buy beautiful and interesting things. Sustainability is a great added benefit, but often comes second in choosing a product.
From the start of developing our WasteBasedBricks®, we chose to make the aesthetics of the product just as important as the waste part. The combination of both will triple the impact.
When you buy our bricks, we produce them especially for you in the Netherlands at factories that often have over 100 years of experience in brick making. A lot of care and craftsmanship goes into the creation process.
For projects exceeding 1000m2, we have recently added the option to design a WasteBasedBrick® together with you or your client. This adds another layer to unique and sustainable design, and increases both the monetary as emotional value of the building.
Early adopters are key to innovation!
4. The economic argument
While our products are in the more expensive segment of construction materials, the value that they offer will often show much later in the process. Let’s explain:
Let’s say that you’re developing commercial real estate and are looking for a company that can not only rent the floor space, but also ‘brand’ your building to attract other potential tenants.
You can look at renting sustainable floor space, for which the energy consumption of the building needs to be neutral. But there is more you can do. A growing number of potential projects also take sustainable building materials into consideration.
As an asset manager put it: “If our clients enter our shop and they learn that the facade is made from waste, it compliments our brand and thus creates value for us”. This is most visible in retail and food & beverage projects, such as the projects we completed with COS Stores and Starbucks.
Having a brand story and letting clients be a part of our mission adds to the joy and emotional value they experience of living in their house.
5. The emotional argument
Besides economic value, we believe emotional value is just as important.
We learned that all private house owners that bought our products, for example, became more aware of the house they were living in. Each time they have guests over for dinner, they tell the story of the WasteBasedBricks® and how their house is more than just another brick building.
Having a brand story and letting clients be a part of our mission adds to the joy and emotional value they experience of living in such a house.
Perhaps less elegant, but just as important as the emotional argument is the fact that our clients like to show off our products, even before the building is completed. Sharing materials during the construction process helps generate buzz around the projects and keeps the conversation about why we should reuse building materials and make them more mainstream.
For the architect, the real estate developer and the construction company, this could be a great opportunity to generate additional media attention and receive recognition for their raised sustainable profile.
To us, this is a win-win-win situation, for us, the client and the planet!
Have you already considered reusing building materials in your project? What would be your main argument for doing so?