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The building you can build again and again

12.11.2015

Lausanne University’s l’Extranef building is a perfect example of how steel supports a circular economy. Here, we look at ArcelorMittal’s contribution to the design and construction of ‘l’Extranef’ – a building which can be fully dismantled and rebuilt to meet today and tomorrow’s requirements.

Completed in 2006, the l’Extranef was one of the first multi-purpose buildings of its size to be built using this method.

Since then, similar buildings have been developed and erected all over the world, with Tata Steel Europe recently winning a worldsteel Steelie award for their use of life cycle assessment to demonstrate the impact of the reuse of steel in a similar building in Holland.

ArcelorMittal not only supplied steel for the actual construction of the l’Extranef building, our company was also closely involved from the beginning through our engineering support. More specifically, Olivier Vassart, Global R&D portfolio leader for long products – who, at the time, had only just started his career as a researcher – carried out the optimisation of the building’s fire resistance to avoid having to use any passive fire protection which could have hindered the modular characteristics of the building.

“It was exciting for me, as a young researcher, to work on this pioneering project”, said Olivier. “Nobody had ever used this technique in this type of construction before”.

He added: “ArcelorMittal has made further headway in the past 10 years in developing more solutions that support a circular economy – and the end of life of a building has become an inherent part of our thinking as the world’s largest steel company”.

ArcelorMittal believes that steel has a major role to play in contributing to a more circular economy, to address climate change. Steel’s great advantage is that it can be re-used an infinite number of times. For example, with a 90% recycling rate, one new tonne of steel equates to 10 tonnes of useful material for the future.

Our global R&D division is currently looking at the many ways that steel products can contribute to a more “circular” economy, in which as little as possible is wasted, and as much as possible is re-used.

In addition to this, ArcelorMittal is also a member of the “Circular Economy Working Group” of the International Life Cycle Chair (ILC Chair), a research unit of international reference centres for the life cycle of products, processes and services – CIRAIG.

CIRAIG has recently published a white paper entitled "Circular economy: a critical literature review of concepts", which can be accessed here.