British Land’s Lego bricks: The benefits of a building materials passport
One of the biggest challenges of refurbishing a building is knowing which of the existing materials can be reused. Without information on the materials, they can be lost in anonymity, meaning they are more likely to end up as waste. But there is a solution to this problem.
British Land has been awarded an innovation credit by the Building Research Establishment for the UK’s first large-scale use of a materials passport, at our 1 Broadgate development. This pioneering initiative enables us to track materials used during construction to ultimately maximise the length of time they are in use for.
As part of our sustainability strategy for the building – a 550,000 sq ft office-led scheme in the City of London that has been prelet to Allen & Overy and JLL – we created a materials passport at the very beginning of the development process. By the time we reach the end of the project – scheduled for 2025 – we’ll have built a set of valuable data, which we hope will give the building much greater potential for reuse in the future.
Recovering and regenerating
Together with architects GXN, we began working with Madaster at the start of 2021 to use their materials data platform at 1 Broadgate. Throughout the development, the project team will update the platform with information on the quality, origin and location of materials and products that will be used in the structure, façade and MEP of the building, thereby creating its materials passport.
Our development approach acknowledges circularity as a crucial part of real estate’s future; ensuring materials and products are kept in use for as long as possible, extracting the maximum value from them while in use, then recovering and regenerating them when they reach their end of service life.
Recording the data in one location with a materials passport provides a simple means to assess 1 Broadgate, not as a single structure to be demolished and rebuilt, but as a combination of individual components that can be taken apart and put back together like Lego blocks.
We have already made strides in reducing embodied carbon emissions at our Broadgate campus, including delivering our first net zero carbon development at 100 Liverpool Street, where we retained almost half of the original structure. More than half of all new materials used in the development were recycled, and to date 99.8% of waste has been diverted from landfill.
At 1 Broadgate, 27% of the materials that were reclaimed from the demolition were reused either on site or within the Broadgate campus.
Additionally, 139 tonnes of steel are being reused in two other developments in Southwark, significantly reducing their carbon impact.
On the pathway
Traditional construction methods need to be challenged and interrogated in order to meaningfully minimise waste and accelerate the built environment’s decarbonisation objectives.
Introducing a materials passport for 1 Broadgate marked another important step on our journey with GIC to achieving our net zero carbon target at the campus by 2030, and we hope to see more of our peers follow suit.
Through our collaboration with Madaster, GXN and our contractors, Sir Robert McAlpine, we have become the first UK developer to implement a materials passport on a large and complex scale and we are now looking at solutions to utilise material passports at other buildings in our development pipeline.
Innovation credits are not widely allocated by the BRE. It is for this reason that the level of recognition at 1 Broadgate is something we are extremely proud of, and also marks the continued progress of our pathway to net zero.
This op-ed first appeared in EG on 26 September 2022
By Laura Hall
Development Director at British Land