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Pre-demolition and Pre-refurbishment Audits

Find out how funding from the BRE Trust has allowed researcher Kathryn Adams to drive resource efficiency on refurbishment and demolition projects.

Pre-demolition and pre-refurbishment audits provide clients with independent advice about the products and materials that can be reused or recycled prior to demolition or major refurbishment. The client can then use this report to set targets and objectives within the demolition or refurbishment tender documents to ensure best practice in resource efficiency is adopted by the appointed contractor. To date there has been little guidance available about how to conduct audits and as a consequence there are implications for the quality of audit work and potential for commercial interests to influence audit outcomes. Most audits are carried out by demolition contractors themselves in the form of a method statement. A key driver for audits is BREEAM; an audit has to be undertaken to obtain credits relating to demolition waste management. There is an opportunity to make this part of the assessment more rigorous with clear guidance on the requirements of an audit and the procedures to follow.

This research built upon BRE’s existing knowledge to set out a process for completing independent pre-demolition audits and implementing the results. It considered the scope for incorporating the resulting technical guidance within further revisions of BREEAM. This included the potential for an independent audit and a mechanism for recording what is actually achieved in comparison to the recommendations of the audit.

Technical guidance was produced and trialled on two projects: the demolition of two Bradford college buildings for principal contractor BAM and the demolition of a former retail/industrial unit for principal contractor RG Group. The actual waste arisings and waste management routes were compared with those forecast by the audit. Overall, the comparison showed that the forecast from the audit was more detailed and more accurate than that provided by the demolition contractor. Recording of materials for reuse was poor and could have been improved if considered earlier in the project – ideally before the demolition contract was put out to tender.

BRE is now working with the UK Contractors Group (UKCG) to publish the guidance which will inform their membership.An online module for recording pre-demolition/pre-refurbishment audits has been developed as an add-on to the SMARTWaste tool. The data entered via this module will be used to improve understanding of resource efficiency on demolition projects and to provide best practice guidance to the industry.

Find out more about this and other BRE Trust funded research in the BRE Trust Annual Review