The construction sector is one of the largest waste producers in Europe, responsible for about 10% of its CO2 emissions. Reincarnate, a European research and innovation project involving sixteen organizations, aims to transform the industry by reducing its emissions footprint and facilitating the recycling and reuse of building products and materials through the advancement of circular economy practices.

The average lifespan of a building is less than 40 years. In Europe, it is even shorter. Only about 25-30 years, around when it starts to be considered functionally obsolete and is eventually demolished. This results in a large amount of waste — construction and demolition waste alone account for 25% to 30% of all waste in Europe. And although its recycling rate seems high, at over 75%, many of its most valuable materials cannot be separated meaningfully, making it impossible to reuse buildings and high-quality building materials in a different setting or for another purpose.

How to increase the average lifespan of buildings? How to reduce and avoid the waste and emissions generated by construction and demolition? How to reuse and recycle the sector’s materials to increase their life cycles? In short, how can the construction industry become more sustainable and efficient?

Towards a greener and circular construction industry

The Reincarnate project, financed by the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation program, will develop innovative solutions to create a greener construction industry. Technical and social means to give new opportunities to buildings, construction products and materials, maximizing their life cycle and determining if they are suitable for reuse.

In the long term, it is estimated that these innovations will reduce construction waste by 80%, reuse what would otherwise be considered waste by 50%, and reduce the CO2 footprint of the construction sector by 70%.

Ten innovative solutions, eleven pilots

Over the next four years, Reincarnate will present ten innovative solutions on a digital platform — the Reincarnate Circular Potential Information Model (CP-IM) —, to evaluate the reuse potential of buildings and construction materials and test their effectiveness on real-world projects.

From solutions for building inspection to construction and dismantling planning and identification and classification of construction and demolition waste — these solutions will draw upon emerging digital technologies, such as digital twin representation, artificial intelligence, and robotic automation.

Data on the recycling potential of building materials will be recorded in databases and linked to the planning tools of architects and engineers to take them into account from the outset. Long-term urban development forecasts should also be included during construction, which can help avoid planning errors.

Reincarnate will demonstrate all innovations on eleven real-world projects and value chains ​​across Europe and China. Furthermore, it will develop business process guidelines and an e-learning platform to drive the dissemination and exploitation of Reincarnate’s results.

Sixteen multidisciplinary organizations from eight countries have joined this initiative, including SMEs, large companies, universities, non-profit organizations and research institutes. They began working together in June 2022 and will continue to do so over the next four years.

Learn more about Reincarnate in the press release of its launch, follow us on social media — LinkedIn and Twitter —, and connect with us to explore collaboration opportunities.