The Material Passport as next step in circular economy

Thomas Rau, architect, visionair and king of the one-liners such as “Every building is a material depot”, “Waste is material without an identity”, “I don’t want a lamp, I want light”, has launched a new initiative that inspires to positive change: the Madaster Foundation. Not preaching circularity, but actually doing circularity. Founding an Ebay for used building materials. Wouldn’t that be great?

If all material data of a building is recorded in a material passport, then the materials can be recovered during the renovation and demolition for reuse. By doing so, it is prevented that these demolished materials are dumped or burned, with which their value is wasted. A building ready to be demolished thus becomes a storage for useful material.

The Madaster Foundation created an online platform, an online “library” that provides the framework and technology to give materials an identity. To receive the information in the online library, it is enough to upload a BIM (Building Information Model). This way, the amounts and prices of all materials are clear at a single glance.

The circular economy is about preventing the use of new resources. This means in the first place reusing products and materials in new functions by recycling them, and at least try to prevent burning or disposing of materials. A building, however, is no teapot or lawnmower, but consists of an enormous amount of components, products and materials. Everyone, from owner, contractor, developer to architect can add the data of a building to Madaster’s library and store it in the Cloud.

The newest building of Liander in Duiven (NL), a project from RAU Architects, is one of the first buildings in the world with a material passport. The material balance of the building was updated in various phases of the construction process.

Various parties, such as developers, contractors and banks, have joined the project. Pablo van den Bosch, co-founder of Madaster, said, “Madaster is a non-profit organisation. It is our job to create the material passports, the market can create its own initiatives to use them. Demolishing and transporting material costs a lot of money; with recycling materials, the right value is created, which is interesting to all parties. Our goal is to let the materials keep their value as long as possible and prevent them from being burned or deposed of.”

Anyone can consult the online platform, from estate agents to officials to citizens who want to buy a house. For further development, Madaster is looking for companies that can contribute to the platform both financially and substantively.

For more information, visit the Madaster Foundation website.

Els Zijlstra

Photos via Madaster Foundation