Tracking Construction Material over Space and Time: Prospective and Geo-referenced Modeling of Building Stocks and Construction Material Flows

Niko Heeren, Stefanie Hellweg
  • Journal of Industrial Ecology, March 2018, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1111/jiec.12739

Tracking Construction Material over Space and Time

What is it about?

Construction material plays an increasingly important role in the environmental impacts of buildings. We developed a model that uses three-dimensional GIS building data to determine the amount of material stocks in Swiss residential buildings. We run a number of scenarios to determine future material flows and environmental impacts due to construction, refurbishment, and demolition of buildings. In Switzerland material demand and construction waste will be of the same order of magnitude. This represents an important opportunity for material recycling. Nevertheless, the total environmental impacts due to production and disposal of construction material remain relatively stable over time. Using wood as a construction material has the potential to reduce total environmental impact. Insulation material is identified as a particularly problematic material.

Why is it important?

Our results illustrate the feasibility and potential of a sophisticated national model that is able to estimate future construction material flows and the associated environmental impact.


Dr Niko Heeren
Yale University

The environmental impacts of construction material are currently underestimated. I hope this article can help to raise awareness for that issue.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Niko Heeren