BAMB - Buildings as material banks: Steps forwards


Summer 2018

The EU funded H2020 BAMB project, Buildings As Material Banks, brings 16 partners from 7 European countries together for one mission – enabling a systemic shift in the building sector by creating circular solutions (see previous presentations of the project in EEI of Summer 2016 and 2017).

Considering Buildings as "Material Banks" is seeing them as repositories or stockpiles of valuable, high quality materials that can easily be taken apart and recovered. By harvesting materials and parts during the deconstruction and renovation of buildings, these materials can be reused in the construction, operation or refurbishment of other buildings, thus reducing waste and primary resource use. Moreover, the term 'Buildings as Material Banks' refers to a materialised investment. It is more than investing money in property funds. In this vision, the building itself is considered as a materialised savings account for material resources, through which building materials, products and components are temporarily ‘deposited’ into a functional element or part of the building. When socio-economic conditions are favourable, (a part of) the materials, products and components may be retrieved for another investment: another building or another high quality application. Seeing material resources as a temporary way of materialising investments opens the door to a wide range of circular business models, in which economic and environmental value is conserved and created through the reuse of materials, products, components and buildings, while (performance based) services are provided to support the daily life of (end) users. More information about the BAMB vision is available on

A powerful new tool for materials banking across Europe has been launched at the end of 2017 and made accessible through This new BAMB Materials Passports Platform will fill a gap in the marketplace by providing a 'one-stop-shop' to describe circular economy value across the building cycle, especially for using and re-using components and materials, and reducing the generation of waste.

A central aim is to support the transition of the building industry from a linear economy to a circular one by letting users identify value potential throughout the building cycle, from planning and construction through occupancy, repairs, renovations, repurposing and decommissioning, and by making it possible to continuously track component and materials quality & modifications. The Materials Passports Platform, currently a prototype forming the core of a materials passport system, is ready for testing by industry partners and it can be experienced by visiting the Reversible Experience Modules (REMs) exhibition.

The REMs exhibition is the largest travelling exhibition of circularity in the built environment. It consists of more than 70 building materials and products, all optimized for healthy use and reuse. Together, they form exhibition space that resembles parts of actual buildings, with a hallway, an office area, a home area and an outside area. In the REMs exhibition, all showcased products and materials will be represented in the BAMB Materials Passports Platform. Visitors are invited to access the platform and use the Materials Passports to dismantle and rebuild parts of the exhibition themselves.

The REMs exhibition launched its European tour in Brussels in January 2018. For more information on the Materials Passports Platform, contact The REMs travelling schedule is available on

Important steps have been taken to further develop BAMB's reversible building design tools, which assess buildings' reuse potential and transformation capacity. The methodologies, protocols and tools in development have been tested in BAMB pilot projects including the Green Transformable Building Lab and the Green Design Centre. Based on the tools' assessments, a low score for reuse potential is associated with irreversible structures that make it difficult to recover materials, resulting in downcycling and recycling as the dominant reuse options on a material level. A high score for reuse potential is associated with a reversible, or circular, structure that allows for the ease of recovery of materials without damage, and consequently the direct reuse of materials and maintaining their value.

The testing of the Reuse Potential Tool and Transformation Capacity Tool in the GTB-Lab and GDC pilots has also helped to demonstrate a clear connection between the reversibility of building structures and their environmental and economic impacts. For example, prototypes developed for use in these pilots indicate that a high score for reuse potential is associated with significant waste reduction (as much as 93%), as well as a cost reduction over time (60% over the course of four transformation sequences). The abovementioned tools and Design Protocol for Dynamic and Circular Building will be finalized in early 2019. Updates and more information are available at

Later this year, BAMB will test an integrated assessment web-based Circular Building Assessment tool on building projects in the Brussels region and beyond. The objective of this tool is to help decision makers, such as architects and their clients, understand the benefits that could be derived when modelling circular building scenarios versus the linear, or 'business as usual', equivalents. The assessment encompasses environmental and economic aspects, alongside social and health related indicators where data provision makes this possible. For the economic and environmental aspects, the impact of various scenarios at a building or system level can be considered.

The underpinning methodology has been tested manually at both building and system level using existing buildings in Brussels and the UK, and a new concept building demonstrating high reuse potential and transformation capacity in the Netherlands. These examples have shown there to be quantifiable carbon benefits from the adoption of circular building scenarios when compared to the usual situation. More examples, across a wider set of building types and countries, will be available by the end of the year as the second stage of testing is completed. This second testing phase will use the CBA prototype tool and there may still be opportunities for readers of this article to get involved and volunteer a project for assessment.


More information

The BAMB consortium consists of: Brussels Environment (LEAD PARTNER) - Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency - Vrije Universiteit Brussels - Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek - Building Research Establishment - Zuyd Hogeschool - IBM Netherlands - Sunda Hus i Linköping AB - Ronneby Municipality - Technische Universiteit München - Universiteit Twente - Universidade do Minho - Sarajevo Green Design Foundation - Drees & Sommer - BAM Construct UK.