Assessing potential environmental impact and construction cost of reclaimed masonry walls

  • Deniz Üçer ErduranEmail author
  • Soofia Tahira Elias-Ozkan
  • Aleksey Ulybin



The recovery of building materials and their reuse in new construction should be considered during the design stage of every new project. This study was conducted to quantify the potential environmental impacts and the economic feasibility of reusing waste material in new constructions with an applicable design solution.


Wall pieces reclaimed from the demolition debris of a historic building in St. Petersburg, Russia, were inspected for potential reuse, and their mechanical strengths were determined through laboratory tests. A proposal for the construction of a reclaimed wall was formulated, which took advantage of the strength of the recovered material and suggested solutions for overcoming its weaknesses. The proposed wall was tested for its potential environmental impact with the help of SimaPro software, and its cost was calculated by using current prices available on the websites of local companies providing materials or services. Finally, the environmental and cost factors of the reclaimed wall were compared with those of an equivalent new masonry wall.

Results and discussion

The strength tests carried out validated the feasibility of reusing the reclaimed wall sections. The results from the life cycle assessment (LCA) models in SimaPro indicated that a wall built with secondary blocks could have a lower environmental impact than one built with new bricks. On the other hand, due to the expensive equipment used in cutting the blocks, the cost of the reclaimed wall was calculated to be nearly 1.9 times the cost of an equivalent wall with new bricks.


LCA simulation of the new wall was conducted with generic datasets belonging to a broader geographical boundary, while those for the reclaimed wall were performed with data obtained from a small-scale case study conducted to determine the feasibility of reusing demolition waste. This study demonstrated that an efficient process for the recovery and reuse of such materials should include a design proposal that takes into consideration the parameters determined from an inspection of the condition of the debris, an assessment of the potential environmental impacts, and an estimation of the related costs. It was further determined that such a design can be instrumental in offering a less costly and more environmentally friendly alternative to dumping the rubble into landfills. The findings of this study will help fill the current gap in the literature regarding the LCA of walls, with a focus on the strength and condition of the wall material after demolition has taken place.


Construction cost Life cycle assessment Masonry Reclaimed brick Reusing masonry walls 



We would like to thank Mr. Mehmet Demirci for allowing us to take the masonry boulders from his site, Pré Consultants for providing SimaPro with Ecoinvent database gratis, Çağla Meral Akgül for her guidance, and Gabor Doka for answering critical questions about the LCA methodology. Prof. Dr. Nikolay Ivanovich Vatin, in the Civil Engineering Institute in the Peter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic University, allowed us the use of laboratory facilities for mechanical tests. Thanks are also due to Sergey Zubkov and Aleksandr Malyshko-Karnauhov for helping with the preparation of samples and conducting the mechanical tests, to Galina Bardina for her help with communication and translation, and lastly to Emrah Erduran for his help with the logistics.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of ArchitectureMiddle East Technical UniversityAnkaraTurkey
  2. 2.Institute of Civil EngineeringPeter the Great Saint-Petersburg Polytechnic UniversitySt. PetersburgRussia

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