A considerable share of the German raw material demand arises from the construction and building materials industry. Domestic raw material extraction is carried out primarily for building construction, road construction, and for earthworks and other civil engineering purposes. The high demand for primary raw materials in the construction industry is largely responsible for the failure of the German Resource Efficiency Programme (ProgRess) for increased resource productivity to comply with its intended goals to date. In consequence, the reduction of the specific construction and building material use (e.g. renovation before replacement, intensification of use) should overlap with reduced raw material use, for instance through increased application of secondary raw materials.
ifeu has been committed to explore these questions in a broad range of projects. A prominent example is recycled concrete (www.rc-beton.de). This particular concrete applies composite aggregates derived from recycled construction waste, i.e. processed building rubble. Thus, it presents a resource-conserving alternative for the production of transit-mix concrete. With several research projects exploring the novel solution, ifeu was instrumental in the promotion and market launch of this construction material innovation in southwest Germany. The Federal Environmental Agency has commissioned ifeu to launch similar initiatives for a range of industries, e.g. light and autoclaved aerated concrete, gypsum, and brick, further including materials such as mortar and plaster, cement, sand-lime bricks, (mineral) insulation and sheet glass.