Sustainable building design practices

Designing out waste through the development of new British Standards on material efficiency

Demolition and construction generate 61% of the UK's total waste - more than 136 million tonnes every year.

Construction has, therefore, been identified as a priority sector for the optimisation of material resource efficiency and waste reduction in the UK - and is acknowledged as a pressing global challenge.

With the UK Government committed to the elimination of avoidable waste by 2050, it is imperative that construction becomes more sustainable now. We are playing a key role in this endeavour.

By accelerating the shift from ‘end-of-pipe’ methods for managing construction waste towards a preventative approach - effectively designing out waste - our research challenges the perception that construction waste is inevitable, and is transforming the industry's understanding of and practices around waste prevention.

Image: Jarrett Mills on Unsplash

Our impact

Guiding international standards and international sustainability certification schemes

  • We initiated and chaired the development of the new multi-part British Standard: BS 8895 (Designing for Material Efficiency in Building Projects).
  • BS 8895 is now the principal resource supporting the optimisation of material efficiency and designing out waste in two international sustainability certification schemes (BREEAM and New Zealand Homestar) as well as a UK quality and sustainability assessment scheme (Home Quality Mark).
  • It has ensured the wider industry adoption of material resource efficiency in building projects.

The research

We have conducted research into sustainable building design since 2005, acquiring an international reputation for our innovative work.

We pioneered the development of decision support tools to design out waste, embedding them in building design and infrastructure briefs. This has enabled the industry to improve its materials efficiency and reduce waste throughout the project lifecycle.

Key areas of research have focused on designing out waste, end-of-life asset and material optimisation, and construction and demolition waste recovery.

We have applied our findings to develop waste decision support tools and a design waste mapping approach. Both are widely used and underpin international sustainability assessment schemes and practice – greatly enhancing construction waste prevention and minimization worldwide.

Find out more about BS8895

  • BS 8895-1:2013 Designing for material efficiency in building projects: Code of practice for strategic definition and preparation and brief
  • BS 8895-2:2015 Designing for material efficiency in building projects: Code of practice for concept design and developed design
  • BS 8895-3:2019 Designing for material efficiency in building projects: Code of practice for technical design 

Research funders

  • EPSRC
  • European Commission
  • TSB (Innovate UK)
  • EMDA
  • ARUP Global Research Challenge
  • BRE Trust
  • HS2

Development partners

  • Professional bodies including the Royal Institute of British Architects, Construction Products Association, Architects for Health, British Plastics Federation, British Precast Concrete Federation, British Woodworking Federation, National Federation of Demolition Contractors, National House-Building Council, Wood Panel Industries Federation, and NetComposites Ltd
  • Academic and research partners including Imperial College London, the University of Reading, BRE and Aimpla
  • Construction and waste companies including Arup, HS2, Mace, Wates Construction, and Biffa Waste Services Ltd
  • SMEs, including Responsible Solutions Limited

Meet the experts

Photograph of Mohamed Osmani

Professor Mohamed Osmani

Professor of Sustainable Design and Construction