Urban mining: Utilising urban centres as a source of raw materials
Success model urban mining: Definition and potential
The increasing scarcity of raw materials poses ever greater problems for society when it comes to sourcing sufficient resources. One possible approach to solving this problem is urban mining. It creates the opportunity to preserve and reuse raw materials that already exist in the recyclable materials cycle. This not only saves costs, but also conserves resources and is therefore sustainable. In addition, long transport routes are avoided and the raw materials available in the immediate vicinity are used. Learn more about this new approach here.
Between resource scarcity and housing shortage
The term urban mining refers to the process of recovering raw materials through the reprocessing of existing materials and utilising them in new ways. In this regard, urban space can be used as a rich storehouse for raw materials. This concept creates unimagined opportunities, especially in the construction industry. Which has been particularly hard hit by the scarcity of raw materials, while at the same time the demand for housing continues to rise. Therefore, materials can be extracted from vacant buildings and land and used for the construction of new properties. The advantages of this method are clear: short travel distances, fewer emissions, lower costs and thus an improved environmental balance. Naturally limited resources are also conserved, because the focus is on the reuse of secondary raw materials. The question "how much electricity does mining consume?" is also a factor that offers significant savings potential, as energy consumption is much lower than in conventional construction material extraction.
Upcycling: Real estate as a reserve of raw materials?
Urban mining, also known as raw material recovery, focuses on the extraction of materials such as wood, glass, concrete, sand, and metal, all of which are scarce commodities. All these substances are usually present in large quantities in the urban building structure. In many industries, the amount of waste has decreased in recent years due to an increasing focus on recycling. However, this does not yet apply to the construction industry, which makes the potential for urban mining particularly high. A prerequisite for implementing successful solutions is the development of comprehensive recycling concepts and a focus on deconstruction-friendly construction. For this purpose, it is useful to document the materials used in detail in order to obtain an overview of the available capacities of raw materials. Policymakers must also create appropriate framework conditions for this, for example by promoting recyclable building materials.
Urban Mining in Berlin: Huthmacher-Haus
The Huthmacher-Haus in Berlin, a commercial high-rise directly at Hardenbergplatz that was built in the 1950s, is considered a pilot project for urban mining. An ambitious partial refurbishment concept was developed for this purpose, which aims to work as resource-efficiently and sustainably as possible. Therefore, the inventory with all materials used is fully recorded, so that an overview is available of the raw materials that are available for the partial refurbishment. The procedure is considered advisable for all corresponding projects, as it becomes directly apparent which materials can be integrated into the cycle and which are polluted and thus must be disposed of properly. The use of secondary resources enables C02 savings and contributes to achieving climate goals. The renovation plans include a renewal of the fire security system, technical equipment and a better floor plan. The plan is to set up modern, high-quality office space inside. The existing restaurant on the ground floor will remain and continue to operate during the renovation work.
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