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Developing WASTEie #1

An approach of standardising construction and demolition (C&D) waste information exchange.

Image by BIMBox

Net zero carbon, whole life performance, circularity and resilience. There is no doubt that the construction sector has the ambition to innovate, evolve and improve to better our environment.

As part of the sustainability agenda, Information Managers are able to uniquely contribute to the collective advancement of the industry. As part of RECONMATIC, BIMBox, an Information Management specialist, alongside the wider team, is looking at standardising construction and demolition (C&D) waste information exchange.

Currently, the team refers to this as WASTEie (a catchy name). To begin with, it is proposed to use the IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) schema for parameter mapping, since it can be utilised by numerous software vendors. Further to this, to develop WASTEie, the RECONMATIC team plan to use the yet to be published Information Delivery Specification (IDS).

There are a few things to consider when considering C&D waste. Firstly, an understanding is required of when waste is generated. In an ideal world, our built assets would be designed to never produce waste in the first place, but of course – this is far from the current reality.

So far, the team has grouped a few major streams where waste is generated (C&D only):

  • Construction waste (materials, such as wood or even concrete and products, such as cut offs of laminate flooring or insulation)

  • Defects (smashed windows, broken doors or equipment damaged during installation)

  • Protective materials (during construction a lot of products will be covered with either plywood, plastic or protective sheets, which may be re-used, but some will be discarded as waste)

  • Packaging (pallets, wrapping material, etc.)

  • Temporary works (scaffold sheeting, materials used for foundation formworks etc.)

  • Demolition waste (this is where the majority of products become materials to be recycled or landfilled)

If you think there are other waste streams not accounted for – please do comment or get in touch directly.


Tackling C&D waste is quite challenging. When discussing waste, the immediate link is to consider materials. It’s not surprising that European (and British) Waste Classification Codes (EWC) relate to materials as well. Yet, when attempting to represent it in the world of BIM, materials alone are not sufficient as most of the construction products come as composites. To illustrate this, the team has extracted the materials identified in the EWC (Table 1) and noticed that around 50% of materials will be embedded in products and won’t necessarily be separated (materials identified in red will most likely be treated as products rather than materials).

This led the RECONMATIC team to recognise that it would be valuable to describe material properties, as well as product properties, that relate to waste information exchange. In essence, looking at the elements designed in project (i.e., in-situ concrete slab) and pre-manufactured products (i.e., doors, air handling units etc.). Refer to Figure 1 below:

While the material list from EWC is beneficial, there is a need to group products into logical clusters, as it would be exceptionally challenging to attempt to describe every product or even product category. To help group the products, IFC domains provide a great existing structure – see Table 2 below:

This showcased that architectural, electrical, HVAC, plumbing and fire protection, as well as structural domains, could be grouped under the ‘building domain’, as the properties to describe products in relation to waste information exchange would be remarkably similar, if not the same.

This approach defines a framework of what information should be captured through material definition and through product properties, providing the scope to move forward:

As the waste issue extensively impacts our industry, readers are invited to provide comments, suggestions and any alternative approaches not considered. The key aim is to create something that will actually be useful for industry professionals, providing a practical application that will bring us closer to zero waste.

This is an ongoing project, and offering the opportunity to take industry practitioners on the journey is key. In the next part, waste related product properties in the building domain will be highlighted.

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