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Design Note 6 Design for Deconstruction

Design for Deconstruction

A sustainable development is one that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The underlying principle behind this, is that to achieve a truly sustainable development there needs to be an optimal integration of economic, environmental and social considerations.

Design Note D6 Design For Deconstruction addresses a very small, yet extremely important issue, which will be part of the integrated solution – the Design for Deconstruction of a steel structure to facilitate its reuse. Steel is the most recycled building material in the world by weight, however this valuable attribute of recyclability is not the only important attribute that steel offers in terms of sustainable design. If we consider the hierarchy for waste management priority which is Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and finally Dispose, it is evident that it would be better to reduce the amount of steel or reuse existing steel in preference to recycling.

The superior strength to weight ratio of steel over many other construction materials gives it a natural advantage in terms of reducing the volume and mass of materials used in construction. This fact, plus the numerous design guides provided by InfraBuild, the Australian Steel Institute and various other publishers on how to design economically has the “Reduce” priority well covered.

The issue of reuse is generally addressed in two ways – design the structure for maximum flexibility and adaptability such that the building itself can be modified and reused (i.e. ease of retrofit, reducing building churn) or alternatively, design the building such that in a way that it can be easily deconstructed and the building elements reused. Steel elements’ ability to be deconstructed has long been recognised and points are now available in the Green Buildings Council of Australia’s Green Star rating tool.

This technical note provides guidance via a checklist on aspects of design and construction that should be considered to improve the ease with which a steel-framed building can be deconstructed.

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