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Waste minimisation is increasingly being considered as part of a comprehensive approach to sustainable design. Good site practice and procurement systems can realise some reductions in construction and demolition waste, but to significantly reduce waste and create a virtually zero waste building changes in the building design are necessary. To achieve zero waste buildings, inspiration can be drawn and lessons can be learnt from nature. The cyclical characteristic of natural processes, where plants grow, die and biodegrade becoming a resource for new growth, can be applied to building construction. The concept of biodegradable buildings relates to nature at a theoretical level and its implementation in practice can contribute to a comprehensive agenda for sustainable design. This paper reports on a study of the potential for reducing end of life waste associated with buildings by constructing buildings to be biodegradable, and considers the options for integrating biodegradable materials in mainstream construction. The study compares the end of life waste produced by three building designs including a traditional construction, a mainstream advanced design and a maximum biodegradable design. The results identify possible waste reductions of 85% of non-biodegradable waste measured by weight and 93% measured by volume for the advanced design and 99.6% (weight) and 99.9% (volume) for the maximum biodegradable design compared with the traditional construction. Both designs also achieved overall waste reductions of approximately 70% by weight and 20% by volume. The study concludes that feasible and worthwhile waste reductions can be achieved in mainstream housing construction by designing biodegradable buildings. Keywords: waste minimisation, biodegradable materials, recycling, natural materials ecological building.
waste minimisation, biodegradable materials, recycling, natural materials ecological building.