Universal material passport for "resource depot 2.0"
Identifying the circular potential of properties to be demolished
In cooperation with the Kamp Circulair consortium, Belgium's most circular office building, 't Centrum, was built in 2021 on the site of the Provincial Centre for Sustainable Construction & Living Kamp C in Westerlo. Because every part of the building is reusable or interchangeable, as described in the material passport, we can consider the building in itself as a resource depot.
In practice, however, it is a challenge to manage all those materials properly, as there are different material passport systems. Those systems work completely in isolation, allowing little exchange of data between them. This means that when products return to the market, the data is only usable by users of the same passport system.
Developing a new universal product passport would require a lot of work and conflict with the commercial opportunities of existing passport systems. Therefore, TEN-agency intends to analyse the current systems, and present a recommendation for an overarching standard into which every existing system fits. Thanks to a uniform use of parameters, different material passports will become compatible among themselves without losing their individuality.
PartnersConsortium Kamp Circulair (Beneens, muurtuin, VITO, Strength, Tenerga, West Architectuur en Kamp C)
We designed an overarching passport system, UP³ (Universal Product Passport Plug-in), which defines a basic selection of product parameters that should be universally available to map the full life cycle of materials.
The collection of universal parameters from UP³ form its own compact passport. A building's UP³ passports can be easily managed centrally, and used by Flanders for calculations and analyses.
The parameters from UP³ form a universally readable, language- and programme-independent source of information. That info can easily be read into all existing passport systems via a plug-in or the programming of an import functionality.
The existing passport systems each have their own strengths and targeted applications, so releasing the compact set of standard parameters in UP³ is not a threat.
MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED
Existing passport systems are often commercial and operate entirely in isolation. No exchange of data is possible, which complicates materials management. When a product returns to the market, the associated data can only be used by users of the same system.
To switch to circular construction and correctly assess the ecological impact in the construction sector, the full life cycle of materials and goods must be mapped. A compact but essential set of parameters should be freely available.
Importantly, the universal system should not threaten existing passport systems. Thus, UP³ counts a compact selection of product parameters that are universally readable, but the existing passport systems each retain their own strengths and targeted applications with a more extensive set of parameters.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
To make the construction sector more circular, it will be necessary to implement a standard to which all providers of passport systems subscribe. The development of that standard, UP³ in this recommendation, is a path to be pulled by Flanders, Belgium or Europe.