General research context

Circular research approach covering the whole life cycle

The construction industry is responsible for the use of more than 50% of natural resources, for the generation of more than 50% of global waste on an annual basis and it is responsible for the generation of over 35% of total greenhouse gas emissions considering the whole lifecycle. To meet the requirements of sustainable concrete structures in the future, the traditional approach of engineers must change: resources and energy consumption must be reduced in order not to compromise the natural environment for future generations. In parallel, the world population will continue to grow and existing infrastructure will also age. Thus, a planned research effort will have to face these problems in order to build the community of the future. To take this situation into account, the future research activities of the Institute for Solid Structures will be driven by the objective to protect the built and natural environment.

By issuing the European Green Deal initiative the European Commission (EC) identified that a circular approach within the construction sector could significantly reduce the negative environmental impact and the pressure on natural resources. The research activities of the Institute for Solid Structures intend to cover the whole life cycle (see Figure) in order to make concrete structures more sustainable. This will be done by researching and also teaching on subjects related to the following key areas:

Key research areas

  • Sustainable construction materials with the development of novel materials based on renewable resources
  • Circular building design for functional structural elements based on design for deconstruction or structural optimization
  • Monitoring over life span to prolong their service life or to prepare their deconstruction and reuse
  • Recycling and demolition at end of life by analysing the materials recovery
  • Secondary raw materials by transforming waste into useful products with attractive properties paving the way for Circular Economy.

Key research objectives

  • Implementation of innovative fundamental and applied research activities in the fields mentioned in the above figure by identification of structural civil engineering problems;
  • Reinforcing the link between industry and science in order to improve and support its competitiveness, identify and establish promising research areas and bring scientific knowledge into technological solutions;
  • Reinforcing the link between research and teaching by ensuring the participation of students in research and by offering lectures illustrating and explaining up-to-date research developments.