By Simon Broughan, TechRadalar.com.auPosted March 15, 2019 11:40:00We’re still not ready to make that big jump into building a skyscraper from scratch, but we are getting closer to it, according to a study by an Australian company.
In an industry that has traditionally relied on large, expensive factories, the RCP Group has been looking to build a building of the scale needed for the 21st century, using recycled construction materials.
In a report for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the company’s chief executive and a former director of the Federal Government’s National Renewable Credit Agency (NERCA) have set out how the company will achieve that goal.
Key points:The report by the RAC group said Australia should move towards using recycled building materials to build its high-rise buildingsBy 2020, it says, the world will be using more than 1.8 million tonnes of building materialsReusable construction materials will be used in the construction of high-rises, while traditional materials like steel and cement will be phased outThe company has used materials sourced from China, Japan, South Korea, Brazil and Vietnam to build the three-storey, 300-metre high tower, which is being constructed by the company in Canberra.
It’s estimated the building could take around 10 years to build, with the first phase of the project expected to be completed by 2020.
The report found the average time to build is around a year, but with a few exceptions, such as the use of recycled materials and the use a steel-framed structure, the building takes around five years to complete.
The company said Australia has already built buildings of this size with recycled materials, but there is still a long way to go.
The RCP group has also looked at the use and impact of conventional steel and concrete, which has been used in high-profile buildings around the world.
The study estimated that the use, and impact, of steel and conventional concrete would be around $1.4 billion and $1 billion respectively over the course of a decade, depending on the type of building.
But while steel and composite materials would be more expensive, they have been used for buildings since the mid-2000s, and the RCC group has found there are alternatives to building from scratch.
“With new technologies and materials, building can become more sustainable, with increased resilience to natural disasters and climate change, and with better materials, the construction process is far more cost effective,” the report said.
“The study found that a $500 million building using recycled or natural materials would cost about $2 billion to $3 billion over a ten-year period.”
Key points -The RCC report said Australia would need to build more than 3.6 million homes and commercial buildings using recycled material by 2020The company says a $600 million building could be built using recycled steel, cement and concreteReusable building materials would not be used to build new high-density buildings, but instead would be phased-out in favour of more conventional materials like concreteThe report said there was a range of possible building materials, including concrete and concrete mix, steel and steel mix, aluminium and aluminium mix, concrete and sand, wood, stone and concrete.
“A total of 10,000 hectares of the site would be required for the building to be finished, with a further 1,000-1,500 hectares being developed for construction and use of infrastructure and parks,” the RCA report said, “The majority of the sites could be reclaimed using existing structures, with approximately two thirds of the total site remaining available for development.”
“In terms of the design, it is estimated that approximately 70 per cent of the structures would be designed for a ‘designer’ type of project.”
Reusable materials, which the report called “low-grade”, are used in buildings because they can be reused, but not recycled.
The group’s CEO and former director, Rob Barton, said while a $400 million building in Canberra would be cheaper than building from the ground up from scratch using traditional materials, he was optimistic about its potential to be a model for other countries.
“We believe that if we look at this as a model, other countries are starting to look at it as a very similar model,” Mr Barton said.
Mr Barton said he was “very impressed” with the RCCC’s report and the company has now begun to look into other potential projects.
“I think the future is looking bright for recycled building,” he said.