Designing Out Construction Waste

Working with Zero Waste Scotland and Ricardo we developed a guide for participants in the construction industry to reduce construction waste and its impacts.

This guide is aimed at anyone involved in making decisions at the design stage of construction projects. This could include:

  • architects
  • quantity surveyors
  • engineers
  • construction project managers
  • clients

In considering the advice given here, you will gain an understanding of the practical considerations and interventions that can be made throughout the design and construction phase of a project to minimise material waste during construction and the lifetime of the resultant building.

After this introduction to the guide and an explanation of the circular economy, Section 3 presents the principles of designing out waste, which are key tenets of this concept.

Historically, responsibility for construction waste has generally been placed with contractors. However, effectively designing out waste requires a more collaborative approach with different actions placed on contractors, clients, engineers, architects and designers. Communication between all of these project team members is absolutely crucial to success. Section 4 of this guide highlights the importance of clear and effective communication between the architect
and design team, other members of the project team (such as contractors and engineers) and, most importantly, the client. It emphasises the key points in the design and construction process where communication is vital.

In Section 5, the principles of designing out waste are expanded into a series of action points and applied to some general concepts of building design. The practicality and tangible benefits of these action points are evidenced by case studies and real-world examples. The objective of this approach is to provide clear, pragmatic guidance on the opportunities for designing out waste and the benefits of adopting these principles.

In Section 6, the action points and recommendations for consideration are mapped against the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Plan of Work 2013 to illustrate where in the design and construction process they can be applied.

Designing Out Waste in Construction