The Business Case for Re-useable Buildings

The Re-usable Buildings project was a ClimateKIC EIT funded pathfinder project considering the client and business models for re-usable buildings. THe project was carried out in partnership with LWARB, Alliance for Susutainable Building Products, Forum for the Future Sustainable Development Foundation and Whole Life ltd., additional funders also include Cleveland Steel and tube and Forum for the future.

Re-imaging the industry: A Vision for re-useable buildings

What could the built environment be like in the future if re-usable building business models were common place? Through this project a future vision was developed in consultation with some of the built environment industry. The vision is:

“The future of the building marketplace is one where traditional construction is a thing of the past, where reconstruction and redeployment are commonplace. A world where buildings can be flexibly changed, adapted, expanded and reduced according to demand or use. Where a building built is not a capital cost but a future resource investment. Where the building and its components are rebuild-able, re-deployable, re-usable and resalable – retaining most of their original value.

This is a world where fleets of components, modules or whole buildings can be leased, then returned to the owner (developer, group of local authorities, etc) when they are no longer needed. A vibrant, competitive marketplace – where components from different providers are compatible, aligned to common standards.

Tenants and residents benefit from more buildings, at lower cost. As their spaces flex in line with their changing needs over time, families stay in the same homes longer, tenants in offices – avoiding the cost and disruption of multiple moves, while strengthening community bonds. Meanwhile, tenants in short-term accommodation need can access safe, quality space.

And all this at no extra cost.”

This is a bold vision of the future, one which requires a different approach to construction to the one we currently have and ultimately requires different business models.

In order to achieve this vision, system change will be needed to create a new market that will encourage the replication of successful practices and models. This is most likely to succeed by designing new buildings and components for re-use, deconstruction and re-deployment, given the added complexities of reclaiming and re-using products from existing demolition waste streams. However, creating such a market will require a critical mass of progressive building clients and investors, to generate sufficient demand to re-shape the supply chain and the supporting infrastructure (e.g. policy, finance, insurance) for re-usable buildings and components. This project looked to scope out the potential for this market based upon client benefits, develop capacity and interest in this area, and develop a roadmap for action.  

Re-usable Business models

This project proposed 5 business models to consider.


Flexible: Designed for ‘in use’ changes to meet needs from daily flexibility to a longer-term flexibility of internal layouts. 


Recoverable: Designed for deconstruction so residual value can be recovered at end of life at high value.


Adaptable: Readily transformable to meet longer term changes from adaptable expansion or changes of building use without significant building change. This could be in response to community needs or changes in demographics.


Relocatable: Fast deployment and redeployment, used for meanwhile spaces and urgent building needs such as changes in housing requirements or in office density.


Returnable: Leasing of buildings (and components) for short term and/or one-off requirements, such as decanting of residents

Click here to download the full report

This project was a collaboration between:

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