It is a well-known fact that the building industry is responsible for up to 40% of worldwide energy consumption, as well as 30-40% of all waste creation. With demand for global construction set to increase by 70%, it is imperative for the sustainability discourse to take a more holistic focus on the life cycle and material perspective of buildings, rather than just focus on energy consumption. And this is exactly what is occurring through the circular economy approach, which has gained rapid traction in the past few years in major companies and across industries worldwide, as well as in the European Union, which has developed roadmaps and guidelines to move towards a circular production system in Europe.
The circular economy, also called sustainability 2.0 or the materials economy, is a closed-loop resource system in which there is no waste – all materials are conserved and are in some way used as inputs for new production. This can be achieved by designing, maintaining, reusing, remanufacturing, refurbishing, and recycling products with appropriate care and thought. To do this, design for disassembly is an important tool.
The basic idea is to design each product so it can easily be stripped down to individual components or material fractions, making it easier to reuse either the component in similar products or materials in a new product. This ensures that value and resources are always maintained and kept away from landfills. Unlike in the traditional linear economy, in the circular economy the amounts of renewable and reused non-renewable resources are maximised, thus further minimising the use of natural resources and negative environmental effects.
Peikko’s focus on reduction and recycling
As a leading global supplier of slim floor structures, wind energy applications and connection technology for precast and cast-in-situ construction, Peikko naturally wanted to be a part of this development. Peikko’s products already offer great environmental and economic benefits by making the building process faster, safer, and more efficient, and creating slimmer building floors, thereby reducing the overall material use in buildings.
Peikko’s PSB® and ARMATA Punching Reinforcement Systems and the composite beam DELTABEAM® offer the possibility of reduced floor height, with Peikko’s Punching Shear Reinforcement being able to reduce the concrete volume of slabs by 10% to 30% in floor slabs as well as in foundations, by allowing thinner structures.
Peikko’s DELTABEAM® Slim Floor Structure is a flexible solution, tailored to customers’ needs and able to save at least 130mm of floor height compared to most optimised prestressed precast ledge beams, and a half meter compared to traditional l-steel beams. An average saving of 10% in floor to floor height means 10% fewer cubic meters to heat, cool and ventilate. For example, a building with five floors with an area of 590m2 has 9.735m3 of air to be ventilated with traditional beam solutions, and only 8.850m3 with DELTABEAM® Slim Floor Structure. The difference in numbers is 885m3, which equates to the air volume of two decent-sized private houses.
In addition to prioritising the reduction of materials use, recycling has also been an important part of Peikko’s sustainability strategy to date. One very good example of this is their web holes, with on average 30 round steel plates removed from every DELTABEAM® side plate and used as shear dowels in floor joints for ground-bearing slabs.
A transformative journey
To establish a fully circular product portfolio with the final aim of being able to provide a full circular building system, Peikko’s existing products could form the basis of the system, but new product development and third-party testing and verification was necessary for design to ensure disassembly elements that could handle heavy elements used in superstructures (for instance, concrete beams, slabs and columns).
A truly circular system enables building materials to be reused several times, and for materials from construction sites, especially concrete and steel from Peikko’s products, together with packaging materials, to be separated and reinserted into the circular process, as raw materials. This is what the company has focused on since 2018, as they have worked to transform their product offering to meet the needs of the circular economy.
The Circle House Demonstrator in Copenhagen, Denmark, is testament to this strategic endeavour. As a fully circular public housing project, this 1:1 mock-up and exhibition space displays all the building’s layers, materials and products, exposing and describing them. Here, Peikko’s circular constructive joints ensure that the building materials will have a high reuse value in the future.
According to SBi (Danish Building Research Institute), concrete elements mounted with Peikko’s bolted joints can provide a saving of 45% CO2 compared to cast joints. The joints are designed for disassembly and makes it easier to reuse either the component in similar products, or as materials in a new product. Bolted joints can also provide 50% faster erection of columns, which means a possible saving of one week of construction time per floor compared to conventional construction methods.
Design for flexibility is also an important factor that plays into the circular economy. Hidden beams and long spans open for unlimited possibilities when it comes to interior design and set no limits to the functionality of the square meters. With custom shaped and built-in formwork, those benefiting from the efficiency of the DELTABEAM® Slim-Floor Structure will also have more architectural freedom. The DELTABEAM® Green is a new, environmentally-friendly version of DELTABEAM®, made from at least 90% recycled materials. The beam cuts CO2 emissions by up to 50% compared to standard steel, composite, or concrete beams. Renewable energy is used in production, and the transport is fuelled with biodiesel or environmentally compensated fuel.
With hybrid structures also being an important part of sustainable solutions, the DELTABEAM® Composite Beam allows combining a renewable and ecological material – wood – with two of the strongest materials: steel and concrete. Peikko’s design allows architects to create unique compositions adapted to their design, and the unlimited choice of materials and compositions results in a more efficient use of materials and space savings.
Chasing the circularity of construction products and buildings has become Peikko’s passion and ambition, and they continue to pursue smart product development across their portfolio, believing that it holds the key to erase waste and create a more circular economy. This vision is summed up by Kasper Guldager Jensen, board member, Peikko Group: “Nature wastes nothing. Why should we?”