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Demolition waste must be better recycled – SATO enhances its circular economy expertise at Vattuniemi demolition site

·4-min read

SATO Corporation
Press release 14 June 2022 at 11:00 am

Each year, some 1.6 million tonnes of demolition waste are generated in Finland. This waste could be recycled for use at other construction sites, yet legislation that is still evolving and a lack of shared practices in the industry hamper the implementation of the circular economy in construction. SATO is committed to promoting the circular economy by reducing its volume of construction waste through sorting and by diverting serviceable materials for re-use.

SATO is involved in the cluster programme for circular economy in construction launched by the City of Helsinki in summer 2021 to bring together industry operators to innovate ways to promote the circular economy. One of the sites for the cluster programme is the Vattuniemi district in Helsinki, where a major town plan amendment project involving multiple landowners is underway.

Considerable additional construction has been envisioned for Vattuniemi. When implemented, the new builds planned for Vattuniemi will necessitate extensive demolition. The building on a parcel of land held by SATO will also be taken down to make way for new construction.

“The first item on the agenda of any project of this kind is to figure out whether the building should be modernised or torn down. Before the decision is made, the matter must be examined from several points of view, including any future needs of people and the area,” Kirsi Ojala, SATO Project Development Manager explains.

Pre-demolition audit best way to ensure recycling of materials

SATO owns an office building from 1972 at the address Heikkiläntie 10 in Vattuniemi. In the current urban structure, the building is no longer ideally located for commercial purposes and it cannot be repurposed for housing. SATO intends to demolish the office building and replace it with a rental housing property for 80 residents.

As part of the cluster programme and its own sustainability work, SATO has carried out a detailed pre-demolition audit of the Vattuniemi demolition site already at the town planning stage. The audit revealed that the SATO building alone will yield around 2,800 tonnes of concrete, 145 tonnes of bricks and 84 tonnes of metals for recycling. The aim is to accumulate information on building elements and materials subject to demolition on a shared online platform. The shared platform will let participants learn of the materials available and their quantities well before reconstruction takes place in the area.

Anticipation is key when the goal is to recycle building elements.

“Circular economy projects involve a great deal of exploratory work to determine the properties of the elements subject to demolition and the kinds of product approvals required for the demolition materials, and also to locate potential users for the materials. At the same time, it must be determined if the future users have any specific wishes regarding the materials so that the correct elements in the correct form can be provided,” says Ojala.

Materials can be re-used ‘as is’ and not only recycled as raw material

At circular economy sites, the goal is to re-use the elements of the building subject to demolition ‘as is’ rather than just convert them to raw material. The less processing the material requires, the better it is for the environment, too.

As legislation and construction are constantly evolving, any changes in law or functionalities must be carefully taken into account in materials circulation.

“For example, is it advisable to relocate a lift to another building if the automation system of the lift at the demolition site is not up to current standards? Retaining the old lift ‘as is’ takes up space and increases costs, besides which old lifts are hard to re-sell. When disassembled into parts, up to 90-95% of the lift materials can fortunately be recycled,” describes Sami Pekuri, Project Engineer at SATO.

The various building elements can also be utilised ‘as is’ in lighter structures or repurposed completely, for example as stage props in the world of art. The option of using building elements as part of a separate storage building and structures to be built on the parcel of land will be examined at the Heikkiläntie site.

Circular economy relies on cooperation between industry operators

Industry operators must cooperate if torn-down building elements and even entire buildings are to be effectively circulated.

Besides expertise, also timetables must be coordinated and operations synchronised. It is important to create networks and encourage operators in the real estate and construction industry to innovate joint approaches so that the standards for the circular economy process can be established and it can be made a valuable resource for the entire construction industry.

For more information contact:

SATO Corporation, Project Development Manager Kirsi Ojala, phone +358 201 34 4011,
SATO Corporation, Project Engineer Sami Pekuri, phone +358 40 731 3580,

SATO Corporation is an expert in sustainable rental housing and one of Finland’s largest rental housing providers. SATO owns around 25,000 rental homes in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Tampere and Turku.

SATO aims to provide an excellent customer experience and a comprehensive range of urban rental housing alternatives with good access to public transport and services. We promote sustainable development and work in open interaction with our stakeholders. SATO invests profitably, sustainably and with a long-term view. We increase the value of our assets through investments, divestments and repairs.

In 2021, SATO Group’s net sales totalled EUR 298.3 million, operating profit EUR 304.5 million and profit before taxes EUR 259.4 million. The value of SATO’s investment properties is around EUR 5 billion.

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