Sustainability Challenge for Civil Engineering

SustainabilityChallenge for Civil Engineering

Theneed to use renewable resources at the expense of natural resourcesis one that has preoccupied engineers for a long time. Increasingwaste from construction and demolition has necessitated formulationof strategies that would see reduction of landfills in sustainablemanner. Deconstruction pertains dismantling and reuse of productswhile demolition and disposal are critical process duringdeconstruction. Sustainability pertains itself with use of strategiesand behavior that create sustainable solutions to the menace. Thispaper will extrapolate the obstacles that engineers face in their bidto create sustainability in deconstruction, demolition, and disposal.

Strategiesto create sustainability in use of renewable resources must bemulti-disciplinary to be effective. They must be robust in order tocombat a situation that is deep-rooted in traditional engineering.However, this does not imply that creating such designs would be aneasy task. The composition of landfill from demolitions presentsdiverse and evolving challenge to creating sustainability. Mostgovernments have been hesitant in enacting legislations regulatingmanagement of Control and Demolition Wastes. In countries wherelegislations are in place, they have been either weak or encumberedby lack of political good will. Countries lack Germany and Australiahave enacted regulations but enforceability remains a challenge (1).Secondly, different jurisdictions have applied differentcategorization of CDW. They have left it at the discretion of localauthorities, thus depriving the cause of unitary and concerted focus.The third challenge is restructuring of the waste to make itreusable. Lastly, lack of contingency plan jeopardizes safety ofworkers.

Tocreate sustainability, it is vital to formulate an easily applicabledeconstruction design. This would help reduce the impact of pollutionin an economical and efficient manner. The design should encompassall aspects of construction beginning from construction, demolition,and disposal. Economy plays into the process because escalating costmay make it untenable. Essentially, the aim is end a construction ina way that poses little or no danger while at the same timemaximizing the economic benefit of the entire process. If one were todeconstruct a building, the value of accrued materials would beobviously lower than the original material used in the construction.To maximize benefits and to be cost-effective, it is vital to have aseparation technique and process that do not escalate costneedlessly.

Materialselection is a very important aspect during deconstruction because itinfluences environmental sustainability. Use of nails and adhesives,for instance, reduce reusability of the material (2). Thedeconstructing process must unfold in such a way that preserves theusability of the original material. This helps in reducing the needfor other materials and conserves energy, further curbing pollution.The spiral effect is eliminating need for transportation, creatingemployment for local populace and saving energy. For engineers, it isprudent that recycling starts from the design stage of aninfrastructure. They should bear in mind that just like humanbeings, constructions have a life cycle. This would make demolitionand disposal economically easier, faster, and environmentallyfriendly.

Asustainable design is futuristic. It not only considers the health ofpeople living around certain infrastructures but also environmentalimpact and humanity. This has given rise to the interactive systemdesign that emphasizes on behavioral change and interactivetechnologies as means to enhance sustainability. The quality ofmaterial used for construction, if high, enhances utility of aninfrastructure and makes it usable by future generations. Thisenhances the humanity and social equality aspect of civilengineering. Furthermore, superior designs promote environmentalconservation and reduce health risk to people. Given that some peopleare unscrupulous, it is important to formulate standardizedstrategies that all architects and engineers must follow.Alternatively, governments and other regulatory bodies can institutebans on specific building materials and designs.

Theuse of bans are regulatory mechanism is not entirely new indeconstruction and disposal of landfills. Different jurisdictions,through authorities at different levels, have instituted bans onlandfill disposal. Such bans target disposal of materials detrimentalto public health ad environment. Example is the disposal of asphaltand certain metals. Bans are effective in reducing amounts and typesof disposed materials and compel individuals and companies to beinnovating in recycling and reuse. Moreover, it lessens the disposalburden that is often a responsibility of municipal authorities. Thisrelieves the authority to concentrate on other responsibilities thatimprove the lives of their people. It also saves resources that localauthorities can divert to other meaningful undertakings.

Inconclusion, deconstruction, disposal and reuse have not always beenan easy task. Traditional approaches and design have posed seriouschallenges to deconstruction efforts. This is because of the relianceon nails and adhesives, substance difficult to deconstruct and reusein future. Architects and engineers have in the past failed toconsider that constructions have a life cycle. This has exacerbateddeconstruction, further complicating the problem of landfilldisposal. However, with appropriate designs and constructionmaterials, deconstruction, disposal and reuse can be an easy task.Governments and regulatory authorities too need to tighten lawsgoverning constructions. There needs to be consideration for publichealth, environment, and humanity.


SustainabilityChallenge for Civil Engineering: End of Life-Deconstruction,Demolition, and Disposal. Research Centre, College of Engineering,Swansea University. 1-4.

Sustainability Challenge for Civil Engineering

SustainabilityChallenge for Civil Engineering:

Endof Life – Deconstruction, Demolition, and Disposal

Student Name and Supervisor Name

Research CentreCollege of Engineering

Swansea University

Swansea UK

E-mail address of Student


Engineers have come up with strategies to try reduce the use of natural resources such as oil, as well as enhance recycling processes. It became apparent to the engineers that they must work together with other stakeholders to reduce the amount of waste products. A vast majority of the waste has been seen to come from construction as well as demolition, which end up filling the dumping grounds. The management of these waste poses various challenges to the engineers. Deconstruction is a notion surrounding disassembly, reusing, recycling, and remanufacturing in the customer products businesses. A range of principles can operate as objectives for system interactive design such as linking disposal and invention and promoting reuse and renewal. Various predictable construction approaches, as well as substances are difficult or unpractical to deconstruct and therefore must be avoided especially deconstruction design. Demolition and disposal are accompanied by deconstruction. Applying the three together can create a sustainable environment. If objects are designed and created with sufficient superiority as well as modularity, numerous people may be pushed to explore deeper into them and selectively be kept knowledgeable about creating the impact of achieving permanency of use. In order sustain the environment, people must adopt technology and use resources that are associated with sustainability behavior. This paper tackles the issues on sustainability challenges for civil engineers.

Keywords—sustainability deconstruction demolition disposal


Through the years, engineers have devised creative strategies to reduce the use of natural resources and maximize the use of renewable resources (3). These ongoing challenges forced engineers to seek out collaborations that would ensure that there is sustainability. The search for sustainability has increased the awareness of the public concerning the role of establishments as indirect and direct stressors of the environment. A life cycle perception of infrastructures is currently encouraged (12, 24). Thus, project groups have become increasingly bigger and the requirements have become more difficult to accomplish because of lack of strong connections amid traditional engineering fields. These connections can merely be developed on a strong foundation that unites the theories of thermodynamics, the application of physics, as well as the interdisciplinary characteristics of constructing science. A vast majority of connections have been present. Nonetheless, they are evident to building practitioners and researchers.

Whereas there has been developed methods and instruments for building design, it is vital to note that there exists a huge gap between engineering disciplines and traditional building. Equally, there has been a gap between architecture and the engineering designs. These gaps have brought a problem of lack of sustainability (7). This papers seeks to come up with a context that would create an effective procedure to fill this gap. The context, based on constructing science, makes possible a complete assessment of the lifecycle performance of infrastructures and building systems, by allowing various operational performance components of a building to be undertaken repeatedly.

II.SUSTAINABILITY CHALLENGE A.Construction and Demolition of Wastes

From the standpoint of design values,&nbspdesign&nbspmay be defined as&nbspan act of choosing among or informing choices of future ways of being (30). There are much more common beliefs of design values, which encompass all ideas of what design can be interpreted to be concerning— (a) the most ordinary and straightforward view that design is about acts of decoration, to (b) the analysis that design is about the assessment of particular objects themselves, to (c) the view that design is concerned about the features and functions of objects, to (d) the view that design pertains to affordances of objects, to (e) the view that design refers to affective facets of objects, to (f) the view that design concerns interactions between objects and people, to (g) the view that design concerns interactions between environments and people, to (h) the view that design pertains to the entire ecologies of environments and people (30).

The waste materials collected from construction and demolition end up in the dumping grounds (2). Further, Agamuthu (p. 491) pointed out that rubble from construction and demolitions comprise 10-30% of the waste materials that are brought to dumping grounds. These waste materials present a huge challenge due to their toxic characteristic, large quantity and density. A vast majority of the construction and demolition waste materials emanate from renovation and demolition works, which comprise approximately 90% of the construction and demolition waste products (2). It is critical to point out the use of the 3Rs has been encouraged in some of the developed countries such as Germany, Finland and Denmark. In this regard, the 3Rs are reduce, reuse and recycle. For instance, Germany has come up with legislations that ensure that construction and demolition materials are directed to proper waste material management practices (23). In Germany, waste materials from structural engineering jobs are totally reused for projects by civil engineers. In Germany, construction and demolition waste disposal at garbage collection sites were banned since 2002 following the enactment of policies that encourage the reuse as well as proper treatment.


The management and the control of demolition and construction waste materials has faced numerous challenges (2). To start with, there has been inefficient legislations that govern the management and control of waste materials from construction and demolition (5). Lack of proper legislation in regard to control and management of demolition waste materials are manifest in countries such as Cyprus, India, Czech Republic, and Malaysia. In these countries, there are ineffective and weak legislation to monitor and govern the construction and demolition operations such as quality construction practices and building materials. There is also the challenge of classification of construction and demolition wastes. In various developing and transitory economies, there are no obvious legislations that govern production, administration and removal of construction and demolition waste materials. On the contrary, the material wastes are regarded as a component of municipal solid waste (MSW) (5, 8). The third challenge involves emergency in the management of the wastes. Sustainable CDW should include the requirements for emergency cases (5, 8). Even though CDW is one aspect of modern management of waste, it becomes a more serious issue after a damaging affair in which life-saving functions should be directly mounted (24). It would be better if rescue operations go hand in hand with the cleaning up of the debris. This would reduce or even stop the spreading of diseases related to destructive events and bring back sanity to the place. Furthermore, an eventuality can deliberately be planned to deal with long-term pertinent waste management problems. Such problems may include the following obtaining financial subsidies for operations, appropriate waste collection and disposal, re-development of waste management infrastructure, construction of local facilities, and increasing awareness. The fourth challenge is restructuring construction and demolition wastes as a derivative of raw products instead of solid waste (5, 8). Unrestrained dumping of construction and demolition wastes to dump sites, as currently practiced in developing economies has been a disturbing waste of limited natural resources. Construction waste materials can function as a rich urban mine if manufactured correctly though deconstruction instead of demolition. According to Boone et al (2008, p. 229) deconstruction can consume a lot of time and is not considered economically sustainable.

III.Design for deconstruction

Design for deconstruction involves disassembly, recycling, reusing, and remanufacturing in the consumer products businesses (12). The primary objective of deconstruction is to reduce the effects of pollution while at the same time increasing economic efficiency. In the demolition of infrastructures, deconstruction aims at recovering certain materials and components for reuse, for remanufacture, and for recycle (12).

Design for deconstruction is applicable on commercial infrastructure adaptive approaches which consider the entire life cycle and not just operation, construction, repair and maintenance. It also applicable in big adaptations such as the eventual whole building removal from the site. If total sustainable development requires an increase in the recycling and reuse of suburbs and urban land, the trends toward rebuilding and renovation to make use of existing infrastructure and land will simply increase.

A.The Economics of Establishing Disposal

The process of recovering remains from construction and demolition activities must be economically viable. The landfill tipping costs must be put into consideration as well as the availability of a ready market for the materials recovered. It is also critical to consider the labor costs involved in the deconstruction process. In addition, it is imperative to ensure that the disassembly process is fast. The effectiveness of the deconstruction influences the direct costs of equipment and labor, as well as impacts the time spent on a project in which building removals are essential to new structure.

Deconstruction involves the bringing down of a structure the has been in existence for a particular purpose for the purpose of recovering of components, building elements, materials and subcomponents for recycling or reuse in the most cost-effective way. The deconstruction process encompasses an effective design for recycling and the design for reuse according to the types and components of materials utilized in a building. Deconstruction indicates a high range of refinement in the distinction of building elements. It is vital to note that when an infrastructure is deconstructed at a maximum rate, the components and materials recovered are in a state below the original state as it were during construction. Deconstruction of the entire infrastructure is not a practical strategic design. The recovery cost-effectiveness of small materials including nails, bolts, and wiring may likewise be negative. It is easier to consider that there are materials not reusable yet can be used in lucrative way. From this viewpoint, it is easy to approach deconstruction design as ordered including design for reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling. This has the aim of operating within an arrangement of constraints. Such constraints are structured on the scale of components and buildings, progressive forces of varying building components, service and functional requirements of the infrastructure, relative significance of building components in terms of lifecycle costs and initial costs (12, 19, 24), as well as the physical forces working in an infrastructure, the series of construction events and deconstruction of the infrastructure, and the elements and raw substances of the infrastructure.

The designing of deconstruction takes several sections of the infrastructure. It is critical to note that the pieces that require expensive and huge equipment to operate and were incompatible to reuse because of the difficulty in matching the parts to the most appropriate new use, may not be profitable to deconstruct. If a substance including steel is employed which is effectively and highly recycled, a highly refined deconstruction can be applied in this situation since a building mainly consisting of steel can be conventionally demolished while the steel is separated from mixed remains by way of using magnets.

The method utilized in separation of waste materials exceeds special requirements to support separation in the demolition level. Since the costs of energy in operating an infrastructure form a greater proportion of the overall cost of the construction over its lifecycle, such as deconstruction and construction, then deconstruction designing in a way that compromises the efficiency of energy of the infrastructure would not lead to economically or environmentally effective infrastructure as a whole. For example, in eradicating moisture as well as air filtration sealants to support penetration by way of constructing envelope, an alternative method can be employed such as eradicating flat roods that need membranes sealed tightly to handle the failure of gravitational force to assist rainwater runoff of high-slope roofs. Thus the mechanical components of gravity is replaced for chemical sealants.

B.Bans on Disposals

The landfills at the state, provincial, municipal or regional level are imposed with bans, which are aimed at ensuring that certain materials such as metal, concrete and wood are not disposed of. In others words, bans are aimed at ensuring that the above mentioned materials are sifted from the waste materials to be disposed. Bans are significant in ensuring that there is critical diversion of landfill and also helps to comply with the waste diversion objectives. Bans are effective as a balancing instrument in which they become part of a synchronized strategy that integrates mechanisms and policies.

It is vital to note that disposal bans reduce the quantity of materials needed in transporting landfill. As a consequence, disposal bans have reduced the need for landfills, as well as other disposal facilities (21, 23). It is also clear that disposal bans reduces the amount of a waste substances that needs to be managed by municipalities. Equally, disposal bans seem to be an effective tool in shifting waste materials from disposal. Lastly, it is apparently clear that disposal bans effects waste material diversion and as such help the recycling business and can result to development of the economy in the area. Before the implementation of bans, markets as well as managing facilities for materials banned should be accessible. Enforcement is similarly required for effectiveness of bans.

C.Material Selection

The deconstruction process is largely associated with environmental sustainability. The deconstruction of buildings provides materials, which in turn reduces the need for virgin materials to be exploited. As a result, there is reduction in the use of energy and reduced gas emissions from the manufacturing firms (19). It is worth noting that deconstruction takes place at the local level or on the site of the construction. This reduces emissions as well as energy for transportation. Furthermore, deconstruction is critical in assisting the community around the deconstruction site. There are employment opportunities where members from the community are employed. It is argued that works involving deconstruction normally employs over three to six employees for every single employed in a similar demolition work. Further, solid waste coming from traditional demolition is diverted from dumping sites. This is one of the main advantage since construction as well as demolition makes up approximately one-fifth of the solid waste stream.

Since the reuse or recycling of materials has proved to be economically viable, it is vital for the construction engineers to select materials for reuse or recycle at the design level and not at the end of an infrastructure’s lifecycle (19). During the design stage of an infrastructure, engineers must put in mind the entire lifecycle of the infrastructure. This will enable them to select materials that only have the ability of reuse and recycle at the end of the infrastructure’s lifecycle (10).


There are various biosphere and humanity aspects that critical and form the basis upon which sustainability of the viable future is defined. They include public health, environment, justice, and social equality, and other conditions concerning the biosphere and humanity. Sustainability is associated with interactive technologies as well as the utilization of resources that can promote greater sustainable behaviors. Various principles can function as objectives for system interactive design including linking disposal and invention and promoting reuse and renewal. In addition, other principles are added including promoting equality and quality, decoupling identity and ownership, and using reflection and natural models.

Design has largely been defined as a method of choosing among or informing choices of future ways of being (30). It is apparent that there exists a variety of beliefs in regard to design values. The main of these beliefs concern the acts of decoration, the valuation of certain objects, the functions and features of the objects, the affordances of objects and the affective facets of objects, the interactions between objects and people, the relations between the environment and people, and the choices that resulted to sustainable futures (30).

It can be argued that people would delve deeply into objects that are built with superiority and modularity in order to establish the effects of the object’s permanent use. Furthermore, quality objects are believed not to lose value and buyers will have equality of ownership like the first buyer. Such objects can be reused and recycled without losing their value. The objects can also be redistributed across the world without necessarily losing value.


A vast majority of the deconstruction designs are modern and therefore do not go well with traditional construction methods (2). Such traditional construction approaches involved the use of nails and adhesives which are extremely harmful to the environment and are also non-reusable. The traditional construction approaches also mix materials which makes it difficult to recognize materials for resale. Deconstruction design needs to be involved right from the initial level of construction since it is vital for a building’s various life cycles (2, 5).

The achievement of a sustainable development has faced numerous challenges. There weak and inefficient legislations in regard to waste disposal and management. This is commonly seen in the developing countries. There are no clear procedures for construction and demolition. It is vital to note that the buildings of infrastructures that are built with deconstruction in mind are easy to maintain. It is vital to note that demolition and disposal of waste materials come along with deconstruction (2). It is apparent that the application of the three together can create for more sustainable environment (2). Sustainability involves all aspects of public health, environment, social equality, and other conditions that involve the biosphere, as well as humans. It is clear from the discussion that the construction of objects under superiority can be effective since the objective can be permanent.


[1] Addis B. Briefing: Design for deconstruction.&nbspProceedings of the ICE-Waste and Resource Management. 2008 161 (1): 9–12.

[2] Agamuthu P. Challenges in sustainable management of construction and demolition waste.&nbspWaste Management &amp Research. 2008 26 (6): 491–492.

[3] Andrade J, Bragan Cca L. Sustainability assessment and standardization: steel buildings.&nbspMulticomp. 2012.

[4] Boone B, Shami M, Weinick H. Solid waste management strategies and global sustainability of deconstruction.&nbspInternational Journal of Environmental Technology and Management. 2008 8 (2): 229–260.

[5] Bosch S, Pearce A. Sustainability in public facilities: Analysis of guidance documents.&nbspJournal of Performance of Constructed Facilities. 2003 17 (1): 9–18.

[6] Coelho A, De Brito J. Influence of construction and demolition waste management on the environmental impact of buildings.&nbspWaste management. 2012 32 (3): 532–541.

[7] Couto J, Mendon Cca P. Deconstruction Roles in the Construction and Demolition Waste Management in Portugal-From Design to Site Management.&nbspInTech-Open Access Publisher. 2011.

[8] Dasgupta S, Tam E. Indicators and framework for assessing sustainable infrastructure.&nbspCanadian Journal of Civil Engineering. 2005 32 (1): 30–44.

[9] Dong B, Kennedy C, Pressnail K. Comparing life cycle implications of building retrofit and replacement options.&nbspCanadian Journal of Civil Engineering. 2005 32 (6): 1051–1063.

[10] Essex J. Rethinking Construction–The Opportunity of Reuse.&nbspConstruction Information Quarterly. 2009 11 (3): 147–152.

[11] Georgiadou M, Hacking T, Guthrie P. A conceptual framework for future-proofing the energy performance of buildings.&nbspEnergy Policy. 2012 47: 145–155.

[12] Guy B, Shell S, Esherick H. Design for deconstruction and materials reuse.&nbspDesign for Deconstruction and Materials Reuse. 2006.

[13] Ijomah W. The application of remanufacturing in sustainable manufacture.&nbspProceedings of the ICE-Waste and Resource Management. 2010 163 (4): 157–163.

[14] Isiadinso C. Integrating deconstruction into the project delivery process. 2007.

[15] Kestner D, Goupil J, Lorenz E.&nbspSustainability guidelines for the structural engineer. Reston, Va.: American Society of Civil Engineers 2010.

[16] Kibert C. Green buildings: an overview of progress.&nbspJ. Land Use &amp Envtl. L.. 2003 19: 491.

[17] Mohammed A, Mustapha A, Mu`azu N. Energy efficient buildings as a tool for ensuring sustainability in the building industry. 2011: 4402–4405.

[18] Mora R, Bitsuamlak G, Horvat M. Life-Cycle Performance Framework for Building Sustainability: Integration Beyond Building Science. 2010.

[19] Mora R, Bitsuamlak G, Horvat M. Integrated life-cycle design of building enclosures.&nbspBuilding and Environment. 2011 46 (7): 1469–1479.

[20] Nixon P, Quillin K, Somerville G. Sustainable concrete construction by service life design.&nbspStructural Concrete. 2004 5 (2): 47–55.

[21]Quinn K. Improving the feasibility of building deconstruction and adaptability. 2010.

[22]Shami M. Solid waste sustainability related to building deconstruction.&nbspInternational Journal of Environmental Technology and Management. 2008 8 (2): 117–191.

[23]Shen L, Li Hao J, Tam V, Yao H. A checklist for assessing sustainability performance of construction projects.&nbspJournal of civil engineering and management. 2007 13 (4): 273–281.

[24]Singh A, Berghorn G, Joshi S, Syal M. Review of life-cycle assessment applications in building construction.&nbspJournal of Architectural Engineering. 2010 17 (1): 15–23.

[25]Vanegas J. Road map and principles for built environment sustainability.&nbspEnvironmental science &amp technology. 2003 37 (23): 5363–5372.

[26]Vieira P, Horvath A. Assessing the end-of-life impacts of buildings.&nbspEnvironmental science &amp technology. 2008 42 (13): 4663–4669.

[27]Winka M, Peluso F, Carpenter J. Demanufacturing: Redefining Solid Waste and Product Management. Pollution Prevention Review. 1995: 89.

[28]Xanthopoulos A, Aidonis D, Vlachos D, Iakovou E. A planning optimisation framework for construction and demolition waste management.&nbspInternational Journal of Industrial and Systems Engineering. 2012 10 (3): 257–276.

[29]Zygouras M, Karagiannidis A, Malamakis A. Construction and demolition waste processing in Athens, Greece: a pilot demonstration.&nbspInternational Journal of Environment and Waste Management. 2009 3 (1): 177–192.

[30] Blevis E. Sustainable interaction design: invention &amp disposal, renewal &amp reuse. 2007: 503–512.