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Circular Economy in the Construction Sector

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Materials".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2024 | Viewed by 6538

Special Issue Editors

Architecture Department, Faculty of Design Sciences, University of Antwerp, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
Interests: urban metabolism; circular economy; life cycle assessment; sustainable building materials; nanotechnology
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Magnel-Vandepitte Laboratory, Department of Structural Engineering and Building Materials, Ghent University, Technologiepark Zwijnaarde 60, B-9052 Gent, Belgium
Interests: sustainable construction; construction materials; concrete technology concrete durability; bacteria
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Since the publication of the report about “the limits to growth” by the Club of Rome in 1972, the need for a different economy that is not linear has been stated. Later, with the dissemination of the planetary boundaries theory, the need for novel production and consumption models was strengthened. More recently, with the support of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the circular economy concept (CE) has gained popularity worldwide. However, although CE supports epistemologically important public policies such as the sustainable development goals and the European green deal led by the United Nations and the European Commission, respectively, there are still many challenges and opportunities to truly develop and implement a circular economy in the different value chains, particularly in the construction sector, which normally has an important economic impact, while having serious environmental and social problems. So, this Special Issue is aimed at contributing to the development and implementation of a CE in the construction sector considering circular economy as a production and consumption system that promotes efficiency in the use of materials, water and energy, taking into account the resilience of ecosystems and the circular use of material flows through the implementation of technological innovations, alliances and collaborations between stakeholders (e.g., raw material producers, building companies, users and final disposal actors) and the promotion of business models that respond to the fundamentals of sustainable development. In particular, the topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following aspects:

  • Novel concrete and pre-cast concrete elements using recycled aggregates, alternative cementitious materials and nanomaterials
  • Sustainable building materials using recycled wood, polymers, glass and other by-products
  • Evaluation of the social and environmental impact of sustainable building
  • Circular economy models for construction and urban metabolism
  • Sustainable paints and coatings
  • Evaluation of the social and environmental impact of sustainable building materials
  • Sustainable construction certifications and novel construction processess
  • Sustainable rehabilitation of buildings and infrastructure

Prof. Dr. Anibal C. Maury-Ramirez
Prof. Dr. Nele De Belie
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • concrete
  • recycled aggregates
  • alternative cementitious materials
  • nanomaterials
  • recycled wood
  • recycled polymers
  • recycled glass
  • paints
  • coatings
  • LCA
  • S-LCA
  • sustainable construction
  • construction certifications
  • building rehabilitation
  • circular economy
  • urban metabolism

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

16 pages, 4078 KiB  
Article
Engineering the Tensile Response of Glass Textile Reinforced Concrete for Thin Elements
Sustainability 2023, 15(19), 14502; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151914502 - 05 Oct 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 580
Abstract
Textile-reinforced concrete (TRC) is a composite made with bi-directional non-metallic fabric embedded in a fine-grained cementitious matrix. When engineered appropriately, these composites can reduce material usage for the desired performance, resulting in slimmer sections and enhanced material efficiency, which in turn lowers the [...] Read more.
Textile-reinforced concrete (TRC) is a composite made with bi-directional non-metallic fabric embedded in a fine-grained cementitious matrix. When engineered appropriately, these composites can reduce material usage for the desired performance, resulting in slimmer sections and enhanced material efficiency, which in turn lowers the CO2 footprint. To facilitate the widespread application of TRC in practice, it is crucial to comprehend the material and structural behavior of these composites, which can pave the way toward an optimized design methodology. In this paper, the tensile response of TRC is studied with different textile geometries, volume fractions and matrix strengths. The influence of the coating impregnation on the effectiveness of the textile to enhance the response of the composite is discussed, with complementing evidence from microstructural observations. The results of tests with different textile configurations indicate a transition in the type of stress–strain response from tri-linear to bi-linear, beyond a certain effective volume fraction. The paper also presents a simplified model to predict the bi-linear response from the efficiency factor-based approach. The insights gained can assist in achieving composite designs with optimized sections and limited tensile stress cracking, ensuring the targeted performance in slender elements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy in the Construction Sector)
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22 pages, 2773 KiB  
Article
Durable Structural Concrete Produced with Coarse and Fine Recycled Aggregates Using Different Cement Types
Sustainability 2023, 15(19), 14272; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151914272 - 27 Sep 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 764
Abstract
The durability properties of structural recycled aggregate concrete (RAC) produced with 50% coarse recycled concrete aggregates and up to 20% fine recycled concrete aggregates were analysed and compared to those of conventional concrete (NAC). Both the RAC and NAC mixtures achieved the same [...] Read more.
The durability properties of structural recycled aggregate concrete (RAC) produced with 50% coarse recycled concrete aggregates and up to 20% fine recycled concrete aggregates were analysed and compared to those of conventional concrete (NAC). Both the RAC and NAC mixtures achieved the same compressive strength when using an effective water–cement ratio of 0.47 and 0.51, respectively. All the concretes were produced using three types of cement: CEM II A/L 42.5 R, CEM II A/S 42.5 N/SRC and CEM III/B 42.5 N-LH/SR. The properties of drying shrinkage, chloride permeability, and accelerated carbonation coefficient of the concretes were determined experimentally, and the obtained results were compared with the values estimated by specific standards of exposure to XC1–XC4 (corrosion induced by carbonation can happen due to the presence of humidity) and XS1 (corrosion caused by chlorides from seawater) environments. The results showed that all the concretes achieved maximum drying shrinkage for use in structural concrete. Any concretes produced with CEM IIIB, including the RAC-C50-F20 concrete, achieved very low chloride ion penetrability, ranging between 500 to 740 Coulombs. In addition, all concretes manufactured with CEM IIAL and CEM IIAS, including RAC-C50-F20, were suitable for use in XC3 and XC4 exposure environments, both with 50- and 100-year lifespans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy in the Construction Sector)
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16 pages, 8943 KiB  
Article
Mechanical Performance of Mortars with Partial Replacement of Cement by Aluminum Dross: Inactivation and Particle Size
Sustainability 2023, 15(19), 14224; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151914224 - 26 Sep 2023
Viewed by 691
Abstract
Although the use of primary aluminum dross as cement replacement has shown promising results in mortars and concretes, there is a knowledge gap between the effect of the secondary dross inactivation process and particle sizes on the mechanical properties and consistency. So, by [...] Read more.
Although the use of primary aluminum dross as cement replacement has shown promising results in mortars and concretes, there is a knowledge gap between the effect of the secondary dross inactivation process and particle sizes on the mechanical properties and consistency. So, by using X-ray diffraction, laser granulometry, and scanning electron microscopy, this article describes first the inactivation process applied to a secondary aluminum dross. Second, this manuscript presents the fresh and hardened properties of mortar mixes containing 5, 10, and 20% inactivated secondary aluminum dross with three different particle sizes (i.e., fine, intermediate, and coarse). Mortar flow test results indicate that compressive and flexural strengths of mixes containing up to 20% fine and intermediate aluminum dross as cement replacement were satisfactory, respectively. These results have the potential to reduce the environmental and health impacts caused by cement production and secondary aluminum dross disposal, respectively. Moreover, the durability aspects of the mortar mixes, as well as the effectivity of the investigated inactivation process, are identified as future research topics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy in the Construction Sector)
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21 pages, 6285 KiB  
Article
Circular Economy: Adding Value to the Post-Industrial Waste through the Transformation of Aluminum Dross for Cement Matrix Applications
Sustainability 2023, 15(18), 13952; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151813952 - 20 Sep 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 858
Abstract
In light of globalization and escalating environmental concerns, society is increasingly confronted with the challenge of implementing the concept of a circular economy, which promotes the recycle of waste materials and offers a promising solution. Aluminum dross, a byproduct of the aluminum production [...] Read more.
In light of globalization and escalating environmental concerns, society is increasingly confronted with the challenge of implementing the concept of a circular economy, which promotes the recycle of waste materials and offers a promising solution. Aluminum dross, a byproduct of the aluminum production process, poses environmental issues when not properly managed. Therefore, this study examined the technical and financial feasibility of implementing an industrial process for the recovery and transformation of aluminum dross into raw materials for use in cementitious materials. From a technical perspective, two processes were evaluated: washing and the grindability of the material. An X-ray diffraction analysis allowed to verify an approximately 88% reduction in AlN (a compound that produces ammonia gases when reacting with water) after washing the material. The most efficient grinding process was achieved using an impact mill. The financial feasibility study was carried out through cash flow forecasting, which revealed that a minimum selling price of USD 0.12 per kilogram of processed material could generate a return rate of 9.7% over a five-year period. These results present opportunities for the metal and construction industries to develop products with low CO2 emissions by reintegrating aluminum dross into a productive cycle. Moreover, this work serves as a valuable reference for policymakers and environmental authorities seeking to formulate new legislation or incentives that encourage companies to invest in environmentally focused projects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy in the Construction Sector)
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14 pages, 5238 KiB  
Article
Environmental and Economic Assessment of Eco-Concrete for Residential Buildings: A Case Study of Santiago de Cali (Colombia)
Sustainability 2023, 15(15), 12032; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151512032 - 06 Aug 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1401
Abstract
Although the circular economy principles date back to the late 1960s, only with the recent stimulus from the European Commission and the Ellen McArthur Foundation has this concept gained attention worldwide. The City Hall of Santiago de Cali (Colombia) is implementing a circular [...] Read more.
Although the circular economy principles date back to the late 1960s, only with the recent stimulus from the European Commission and the Ellen McArthur Foundation has this concept gained attention worldwide. The City Hall of Santiago de Cali (Colombia) is implementing a circular economy model through a sustainable construction handbook and its certification. Among others, these stimulate the use of eco-concrete using fly ash and blast furnace slag coming from local industries (industrial symbiosis). Although concretes with these supplementary cementitious materials have been widely investigated regarding mechanical and durability properties, the economic and environmental impacts have been scarcely and independently evaluated, making the material selection a complex process. Therefore, this article presents the environmental and economic assessment of eco-concretes using fly ash and blast furnace slag for the design of a house located in Santiago de Cali (Colombia). The environmental and economic impacts are estimated by means of the environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle costing (LCC), which are methodologies based on the ISO and ASTM standards implemented in the online software Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES), which was selected for this case study. The results indicate that 40% fly ash concrete or 50% blast furnace slag would be recommended for reducing acidification or global warming potential, respectively. However, considering the existing public policies, the best option for the case study is 50% slag concrete. These results are of significant importance as they allow providing data-based recommendations for designers during the selection of the different eco-concretes. Additionally, these results might help establish a national roadmap to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the construction sector, which are projected to continue increasing until 2050. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy in the Construction Sector)
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21 pages, 16712 KiB  
Article
3D Printing of Hybrid Cements Based on High Contents of Powders from Concrete, Ceramic and Brick Waste Chemically Activated with Sodium Sulphate (Na2SO4)
Sustainability 2023, 15(13), 9900; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15139900 - 21 Jun 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1041
Abstract
This article evaluates the synthesis, characterization and 3D printing of hybrid cements based on high (70%) contents of powders from concrete waste (CoW), ceramic waste (CeW) and red clay brick waste (RCBW) from construction and demolition waste. For the synthesis of the hybrid [...] Read more.
This article evaluates the synthesis, characterization and 3D printing of hybrid cements based on high (70%) contents of powders from concrete waste (CoW), ceramic waste (CeW) and red clay brick waste (RCBW) from construction and demolition waste. For the synthesis of the hybrid cements, 30% (by weight) of ordinary Portland cement (OPC) was added. Sodium sulphate (Na2SO4) (4%) was used as a chemical activator. The effect of the liquid/solid ratio on the properties in the fresh state of the mixes was studied by means of minislump, flowability index, and buildability tests. The compressive strength was evaluated at 3, 7, 28 and 90 days of curing at room temperature (≈25 °C), obtaining strengths of up to 30.7 MPa (CoW), 37.0 MPa (CeW) and 33.2 MPa (RCBW) with an L/S ratio of 0.30. The results obtained allowed selecting the CoW 0.30, CeW 0.33 and RCBW 0.38 mixes as optimal for carrying out 3D printing tests on a laboratory scale, successfully printing elements with good print quality, adequate buildability, and compressive strength (CoW 0.30 = 18.2 MPa, CeW 0.33 = 27.7 MPa and RCBW 0.38 = 21.7 MPa) higher than the structural limit (≥17.5 MPa) established for concrete by Colombian Regulations for Earthquake Resistant Construction (NSR-10). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Circular Economy in the Construction Sector)
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