Sustainable building

In the last few years, the industry awareness of natural sources economy has launched an enhancement path of waste material also in the construction field.

Construction field is responsible for about 75% of natural resources consumption [1]: sand, iron, stone and much more. All real estate construction sites also generate high quantities of waste, both for the construction and demolition or renovation. These wastes have a huge reuse potential and, thanks to appropriate treatments, it’s possible for them to regain their original features and to become new materials for the construction.

Steel – an iron and coal compound – has an advantage: it can be transformed back to infinity without losing its qualities. With the use of junks, it is possible to create recycled steel with an electricity saving that can go up to 80%, comparing with virgin steel production. It’s possible to create reinforcing irons, wires, nails, and other metal elements with this material.

The concrete can also be recycled, with a remarkable economic saving on disposal costs. The thus obtained material can be used to create structural elements, even though it has a minor resistance and compression compared with the virgin one [2]; despite this, the recycled concrete has excellent durability and minimum weight features, which result in a transport costs saving.

In the last years, recovered wood has become very popular: it comes from the restoration or demolition of old buildings in good condition. The wood, if treated with care, succeeds into conserve its qualities for centuries. It’s used to make wood floors, furniture, and coatings.

Reused gypsum has the same physical and mechanical characteristics as virgin gypsum, with considerably lower costs. However, recycling this material turns out to be more complex than others: gypsum emits flammable and highly toxic hydrogen sulfides that can contaminate soil or groundwater.

Expanded polystyrene, after being properly crushed and compacted, can become a very useful raw material for the manufacture of new plastic products, or as an additive for paints.

Instead, recycling of construction glass presents technical difficulties: these components have different chemical composition and melting temperature than easily recyclable common glass objects (jars or bottles). However, glazing can be processed by melting into glass fibers, to be incorporated into asphalt or reflective asphalt paints. Broken glass can also be combined with cement to create granite floors and countertops.

Then there are many other materials that can be recycled: zinc, aluminum, packaging, textiles.

In roads construction sites, excavated and waste materials – which would normally have to be disposed of – can be mixed with chemical additives to create mixtures of the same quality for restoring asphalts, without having to buy new bitumen.

Moreover, for several years now a new practice has appeared: reusing recycled plastic materials in asphalts production. This solution not only enables to reduce production costs and Ambiental costs for the use of new resources, but it also allows asphalts features improvement in terms of durability and shock and noise absorption capacity.

Some asphalts incorporate tires into mixes, which have for long been used for their shock resistance and vibration absorption characteristics for the construction of curbs, speed bumps, barriers, and traffic delimiters. The mantle created with this material boasts of an incredible resistance to cracking and to atmospheric agents, less noise production and it offers a better road adherence to vehicles [3].

Thus, recycling in construction field is beneficial to environment and consumer because it avoids natural resources waste, it reduces production, transport, and waste treatment costs. There are several reuse ideas, but the greatest difficulty for the next years will be to structure an efficient waste collection and treatment system that allows these ideas to be concretized.

Share the post

  • L'Autore

    Chiara Natalicchio

    Laureata con Lode in Ingegneria Meccanica Magistrale con indirizzo Smart Factory al Politecnico di Bari.
    Durante gli studi, ha partecipato a un tirocinio presso il Centro Nazionale di Ricerca a Bari, e a due esperienze internazionali: il programma Erasmus a Bilbao, in Spagna, e il programma Double Degree a Parigi, in Francia. Qui si è occupata principalmente di energia, collaborando, durante uno stage di sei mesi, al progetto di commercializzazione di una strada solare, che è diventato poi oggetto di tesi.
    Attualmente svolge uno stage in una società di gestione immobiliare, dove si occupa di gestire progetti di manutenzione, rinnovazione ed efficientamento energetico degli immobili gestiti dal Gruppo.
    La sua passione è lo sport, in tutte le sue forme: al chiuso, all’aperto, individuale, di gruppo. Dopo una lunga carriera da ginnasta, durante gli anni universitari si dedica all’allenamento delle giovani leve; da sei anni nuota in una squadra master, partecipando a competizioni regionali.
    Ama la lettura, il cinema, i viaggi e le lingue straniere.
    Da sempre sensibile a temi sociali, politici ed ecologici, nel Novembre 2020 entra nel team di Mondo Internazionale per occuparsi della redazione di articoli per l’area “Ambiente e Sviluppo” e come Policy Analyst nel gruppo MIIP.Graduated with honors in Mechanical Engineering at the Polytechnic of Bari.

    During her studies, she carried out an internship at the National Research Center in Bari, and two international experiences: the Erasmus program in Bilbao, Spain, and the Double Degree program in Paris, France. Here, she mainly dealt with energy, collaborating, during a six-month internship, on the marketing project of a solar road, which later became the subject of her thesis.
    She currently takes part in an internship at a property management company, where she manages maintenance, renovation and energy efficiency projects of the properties managed by the Group.
    Her passion is sport, in all its forms: indoors, outdoors, individually or in groups. After a long career as a gymnast, during her university years she started to train young talents; she has been swimming in a master team for six years, participating in regional competitions.
    She loves reading, travelling and studying foreign languages.
    Always sensitive to social, political and ecological issues, in November 2020 she joins the Mondo Internazionale team to write articles for the "Environment and Development" area and as a Policy Analyst in the MIIP group.

You might be interested in


Murano Glass: from waste to new life

Nadia Dalla Gasperina

The vanguard of the sustainable city: NEOM

Chiara Natalicchio

A “zero-waste” world to save the planet

Valeria Fraquelli
Log in to your Mondo Internazionale account
Forgot Password? Get it back here