Environmental assessment of the Urban Mining and Recycling (UMAR) unit by applying the LCA framework
IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environment
In 2016, Empa inaugurated NEST ("Next Evolution in Sustainable Building Technologies"), a new type of building that expedites the innovation process by providing a platform where new developments in the built environment can be tested, verified and demonstrated under realistic conditions. One of the units within is the "Urban Mining and Recycling" (UMAR) unit by Werner Sobek with Dirk E. Hebel and Felix Heisel -a unit that demonstrates how a responsible approach of dealing with natural
... th natural resources can go hand in hand with an appealing architectural design. The unit is underpinned by the proposition that all the resources required to construct the building must be fully reusable, recyclable or compostable and are therefore part of a circular economy; propositions that can be tested here in a kind of "real-life" laboratory. Empa's Technology & Society Laboratory (TSL) established -in parallel to the integration of this unit into the NEST building -an ecological evaluation of this unit, using the tool of "life cycle assessment" (LCA). Compared to a hypothetical reference unit in same size and standard constructed out of common building materials such as concrete, the UMAR unit shows over its entire life cycle a reduction of the environmental impacts of 18% (for grey energy) to more than 40% (global warming potential).