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Brick thieves, Caligula and reusing building materials

Making money from old bricks

London is experiencing a spate of brick thefts as thieves try to make thousands of pounds by selling them for use in extensions at the homes of wealthy residents. This is a worrying trend, but it illustrates the value of  building materials.

<strong>London bricks are in demand<strong>






Save and make money from construction waste

A newly released publication, Achieving greater material resource efficiency: Supporting a circular economy, provides a guide to supporting the circular economy for construction waste. Re-purposing construction materials can reduce construction waste, save and make money, reduce risk on site and improve a company’s reputation.

The guide is written by waste experts Katherine Adams and Gilli Hobbs. Katherine is currently a PhD researcher at Loughborough University studying applying circular economy in buildings. Gilli is Strategy Director for the Building Futures Group at BRE.

Their research and development has led to a waste benchmarking and minimisation tool called SMARTWaste. SMARTWaste is a tool developed by BRE to allow auditing processes for demolition and construction projects. With a hand-held facility to enable site and building surveys, this tool collects data in a downloadable format. The data can then be used to identify the main waste streams on-site and to facilitate waste management plans.

Katherine and Gilli’s new guide Achieving greater material resource efficiency: Supporting a circular economy is full of key guidance on practical ways to reduce your construction waste. Add it to your bookshelf, find out more here.

Find out about SMARTWaste at Kings Cross, London.

Buildings as material banks

BRE is partnering with the EU funded BAMB project – Buildings as Material Banks. The BAMB project brings 16 parties throughout Europe together for one mission – enabling a systemic shift in the building sector by creating circular solutions.

BAMB is creating ways to increase the value of building materials. Dynamically and flexibly designed buildings can be incorporated into a circular economy – where materials in buildings sustain their value. That will lead to waste reduction and the use of fewer virgin resources.

Weird facts about reusing materials

Victorian street scene
<strong>Some Victorians had to scrape a living together<strong>


1 In the Victorian era, dog faeces were collected from the streets and sold to tanners for use in the leather making process; leeches were also collected for their many uses in medicine, see here for more grisly details!

2 Burying bricks in the garden was a common disposal method in the past. I am a witness to this as I found a buried hoard of bricks wrapped in a rubble bag under my flowerbed. I thought I’d found a body…

<strong>Emperor Caligula aka Bootikins<strong>


3 The busts of Roman emperors were quite often re-carved to replace the previous emperor’s features. So Claudius became Caligula!