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The MiniCO2 Houses: The Upcycle House

When building a house it makes sense to recycle materials which have already paid their carbon bill, as it were. Or better yet: Develop processes which enable the upcycling and recycling of unusable materials in new building materials with greater utility value than the original materials.

The Upcycle House is part of a major development project: The MiniCO2 Houses. The project comprises a total of six houses, each of which illustrates different ways of reducing carbon emissions when constructing, running and maintaining a house.

The Upcycle House focuses on how recycling in ways which add value can save resources and reduce carbon emissions associated with construction of a house.

Upcycling means recycling a waste product in the most efficient way possible - and improving on it. A good example of this is in the Upcycle House, designed by Lendager Group. The cladding on the terrace of the house consists of composite boards made of waste plastic and wood, and the ground floor insulation is made up of shredded polystyrene from a furniture dealer’s packaging containers, while the wall insulation is a granulate of treated newspaper and the kitchen floor is laid with sliced bottle corks.

In a world in which resources are scarce, upcycling means fewer ‘virgin raw materials’ are used, less is manufactured and carbon emissions are reduced. This means we can protect the climate while making much more sustainable use of the world's resources.

 

About the Upcycle House

The basic structure of the Upcycle House is made up of two recycled shipping containers. The two containers are spaced so that the layout of the house is more or less square.

Examples of upcycling and recycling in the Upcycle House:

The exterior

  • A foundation made up of recycled steel screw piles
  • Ground floor insulation made of shredded polystyrene from furniture packaging
  • Base/rodent proofing plate made of nylon sheets from an ice rink
  • Façade cladding made up of plates made of recycled paper and organic rosin
  • Façade cladding made up of aluminium sheets made of recycled aluminium from beer and soft drink cans
  • The windows in the greenhouse are recycled from a closed school, while the windows in the warm building envelope comprise reject triple-glazed panes of glass, which are mounted on the façade and the joint between the glass and façade is sealed using rubber filler tape. In this way, the panes of glass do not have to be of specific dimensions to be used, as long as they are larger than the window cavity.
  • A terrace is constructed of planks made of recycled plastic and wood pellets. Paving is made up of recycled tiles.

 

The interior

  • The flooring is variously made of bottle corks, recycled brick and glueless OSB sheets made of surplus timber from furniture manufacturers.
  • Wall cladding comprises plasterboard containing 25% recycled plaster; glueless OSB sheets and an insulating wall created using recycled plastic bottles.
  • Insulation made from Danish newspapers; fibreglass insulation made from recycled glass; wood-wool insulation and insulation made from polystyrene pellets upcycled from old fruit boxes.
  • Upcycled kitchen and bathroom furniture

 

Savings

The Upcycle House achieves major carbon savings because the recycled materials used have already been mass-produced, are readily available, and save the environment many tonnes of CO2.

Carbon emissions resulting from the Upcycle House's consumption of materials in its construction are 86% lower than those of the Reference House. The construction of the Upcycle House emits just 0.7 kg CO2/m2/year over a period of 50 years, compared with the Reference House, which emits 5 kg CO2/m2/year.

The reason for this is simple: the materials used have already been through the production cycle when they were made, and have already ‘paid their carbon bill’.

Facade created from recycled paper and bio-resin

Facade created from recycled paper and bio-resin

Geography:

Southern Denmark (Funen)

Architect:

Lendager Group

Year of construction:

2012-2014

Style and period:

Sustainable construction

Gallery

Watch the movie about the 'Upcycle House' here