In an increasingly environmentally conscious world, the construction industry is implementing circular economy principles to recycle concrete debris into precast products, paving the way for a cleaner future.

Globally, the construction sector is among the largest consumers of natural raw materials. It is a sector vulnerable to raw material supply problems and price volatility. With new buildings and infrastructure projects rising, the demand for building materials is expected to increase, potentially resulting in an acute shortage.

According to the World Green Building Council’s report, the building and construction sectors are responsible for 39 percent of all carbon emissions worldwide, with operational emissions (from energy used to heat, cool, and light buildings) accounting for 28 percent. The remaining 11 percent comes from embodied carbon emissions associated with materials and construction processes throughout the entire lifecycle of buildings. Increased use of recycled construction materials, smart building design, and engineering might significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

C&D Waste – A Resourceful Opportunity

According to a report released by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in 2020, India recycles just 1 percent of its Construction and Demolition (C&D) waste. Managing C&D waste has become essential to ensure sustainable infrastructural growth globally. The major proportion of C&D waste comprises debris from demolishing old buildings, roads, bridges, etc.

C & D waste can be a resourceful opportunity, potentially recovering nearly 70 percent of waste using appropriate methods and guidelines during any demolition activity. Regarding waste streams, concrete, bricks, blocks, and other fine materials form a major fraction of the overall C&D waste generated.

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Godrej Construction Initiative – ‘Recover, Recycle and Rebuild’

To demonstrate that the principles of the Circular Economy are feasible, Godrej Construction, a pioneer in adopting sustainable construction practices in India committed to minimising the impact of construction on the environment, took the initiative to do so. Godrej Construction has set up an automated Recycled Concrete Materials (RCM) manufacturing plant at Vikhroli, Mumbai, in line with its core values. The plant manufactures concrete blocks for walls and pavers, using concrete debris recycled from demolished concrete structures from building and infrastructure projects, which would otherwise end up in overflowing city landfills. In India, concrete debris is a major waste stream in the total C&D waste generated. So far, over 30,000 metric tonnes of concrete debris have been recycled by implementing Circular Economy principles in the Construction Materials line of business. The recycled concrete materials from the plant are also used for constructing customised Prefabricated Concrete Products such as Box Culverts, Ducts, U Drains, and Drain Covers, which are being used for major infrastructure projects in Mumbai.

In August 2023, Godrej Construction (GC) was awarded the prestigious ‘Pioneer in Excellence Prize’ at the 9th International Best Practice Competition 2023. The event, organised by the Center for Organisational Excellence Research, New Zealand, in partnership with the European Foundation of Quality Management EFQM, has recognised GC for its best practices in various categories. GC’s commitment to sustainable development demonstrated through the practice of ‘Adopting Circular Economy Principles for Recycling Concrete Debris to Produce Precast Products,’ has earned a prestigious 5-star (★★★★★) rating.

Construction 3D Printing (3DCP)

The construction industry is leveraging technology to make construction management and site operations more efficient and sustainable. Construction 3D printing (3DCP) has the potential to enable faster, safer, and more precise creation of structures with complex geometry, reducing the overall carbon footprint of the structure.

Addressing the growing need to improve productivity and sustainability within the Real Estate and Infrastructure sectors, Godrej Construction has partnered with Tvasta, an indigenous start-up founded by Indian Institute of Technology Madras alumni, to develop a Bus Shelter using 3D Printing Technology as the first pilot project. Recently, Godrej Construction, in collaboration with Tvasta, has meticulously designed, engineered, manufactured, and erected a unique Security Pavilion structure by deploying a fully automated Robotic Arm 3D Printer, a homegrown innovation by Tvasta. This Security Pavilion is thoughtfully designed and developed to be climate-responsive. This new development serves as a testament to the potential of 3D printing technology and its likely impact on the Real Estate and construction industry in the years ahead.

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