MATRx, development of a material flow assessment tool for Design for Disassembly

Research output: Unpublished contribution to conferenceUnpublished abstract


A way to apply circular economy to the built environment is Design for Disassembly, an approach to design adaptable building components whose materials can be re-used. Targeting a high material efficiency, this approach often requires an extra material input, due for instance to more complex connection details or oversized components. Hence architects and building managers need to know whether this initial material input can be compensated by savings in future building adaptations. An assessment tool could help them to quickly compare different design options, based on material efficiency on the entire building lifecycle.
The MATRx tool we developed estimates the effects of Design for Disassembly on the materials consumed and waste generated by the building on a defined period of time. The scope and means of this assessment tool were defined through a brief review of the existing methods and Design for Disassembly criteria. This paper presents the three main steps of the tool development: the evaluation of the material reuse potential, the estimation of present and future material flows, and the implementation in a Building Information Modelling (BIM) software.
MATRx determines the reuse potential of materials assembled in sequence, according to their durability and the reversibility of the connection between materials. The tool measures the temporal evolution of material flows added and evacuated. In MATRx, Design for Disassembly increase the on-site material re-use, which limits the addition of new building materials and the evacuation of waste. The effects of planned and future building alterations are considered. To estimate future possible alterations, the tool’s user can attribute a ‘Replacement Rate’ factor to each building components. Finally, MATRx was implemented in the BIM software Revit, using the visual programming add-on Dynamo, to speed up the data collection phase.
MATRx provides a quantified evaluation of material flows due to building alterations. Architects and building managers can anticipate the need for building materials due to future maintenances and adaptations of the building. Using MATRx, they can compare different design options in an informed way. They can also learn the key parameters involved in Design for Disassembly. However, the assessment provided in MATRx cannot yet be considered complete: too few criteria are considered in the assessment. It is neither fully objective, because the durability and recyclability criteria must be assessed by the user. In the future, this information could be provided by product manufacturers through material databases. Future research could integrate a larger set of Design for Disassembly criteria, a refined anticipation of future material flows, and a method for linking material quantities with financial and environmental impacts.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 5 Jun 2018
EventWASCON 2018: 10th International Conference on the Environmental and Technical Implications of Construction with Alternative Materials - Tampere hall congress and concert centre, Tampere, Finland
Duration: 6 Jun 20188 Jun 2018


ConferenceWASCON 2018
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