Report UK CHARM Project Meeting Birmingham 2022

Birmingham, UK

4 July 2022 - 4 July 2022

The CHARM-partners (Zonnige Kempen, Paris Habitat, GreenSquareAccord, Woonbedrijf, Kamp C, University of Birmingham, EFL and Delft University of Technology) gathered in Birmingham on the 27th and 28th of June 2022. Here, we discussed the project as a whole and visited two projects (Stirchley and virtually plastic free houses) of GreenSquareAccord, who organised and hosted the event in the UK together with University of Birmingham.


Monday, 27 June 2022

We started at the University of Birmingham with the partner meeting in the morning. All demonstration exemplars were being discussed and we’ve had a look at the deliverables. The project has been amended to December 2023, due to the delays of Covid-19.

Deliverables on the CHARM project
At this point, we need to focus more on tangible, transferable and practical outcomes of the exemplars. This ready-to-use information is really interesting for the (social) housing sector. One of the problems we are facing is regulation. There is an ambition to be circular, but sometimes regulation prevent e.g. to use re-used parts, such as: windows. This has to do with guarantees. The legislator needs to change onto a circular mindset as well if we want to make the transition to a circular economy. Another hick-up is the tender process. There is much work in UK and the Netherlands, which makes it different to tender and find contractors.

Public information on the demonstration exemplars
Informational videos of the demonstration exemplars are going to be made of all projects. GreenSquareAccord and Zonnige Kempen have already made a video. These videos are available online on various websites. And, of course, also on the CHARM website. A video of the Stirchley project is being made and soon available. Paris Habitat and Zonnige Kempen are going to make a video in the near future as well when their project exemplars are going to be finalized.

Material Exchange Platform
Paris Habitat is working well on the online Material Exchange Platform (MEP). The ambition is to get the platform known to many other organisations so they are going to use it. And the interest is there. Already, there are about 100 organisations in France that are interested in the use and abilities of MEP. Paris Habitat also has a physical location for material storage. This is quite an informal and small place, because the business plan is quite difficult because of the scarce availability of (expensive) ground in the municipality of Paris.

LT Transnational Training Sessions
On the 23rd of June 2022, University of Birmingham and GreenSquareAccord organised an online workshop session in cooperation with Delft University and EFL. About 35 people of various organisations (under which: local authorities, social housing organisations, and students ) subscribed. The lessons learned of this first training session are being shared for the upcoming French, Belgium/Dutch training sessions in the second half of 2022. The umbrella organisations are involved in the organisation and programmes.

Visit to the LoCal Homes Factory
In the afternoon, we visited the LoCal Homes Factory in Walsall where we’ve got a tour. This factory has manufactured the timber frames for the virtually plastic free houses. 


Tuesday, 28 June 2022

Dr Halima Sacranie (University of Birmingham) and Phd Sultan Çetin (Delft University of Technology and co-founder of DiCe Lab) kicked off the second day in Birmingham, called the UK CHARM Inspiration Day, with a presentation on circular economy. Besides the CHARM partners, (online) guests were present during this morning, representing various organisations.

Circular economy
Sultan gave an brief introduction to project CHARM, what the project is about and who are working on the project. She then introduced and explained the principles of circular economy, and how to implement these in housing, using the demonstration exemplar of Zonnige Kempen. Our Belgian partner have developed and are now using a circular renovated office for their organisation. This office is not only an example but the project and process are also being used for future housing project. Material passports and approaches were discussed and how they can integrated in projects to make another step towards a circular economy.

Policy approaches to carbon reduction
Halima focused on policy approaches to carbon reduction in housing in the UK, linking Whole Life Carbon (WLC) and the circular economy, plus the social impacts and tenant engagement. She discussed a broader strategy (for housing organisations) to circular economy. However, the housing policy in UK is still (too much) focused on handling construction waste and doesn’t look at the building process as a whole. It is therefore a linear view on carbon emission. But there is hope. A couple of examples (such as: London plan – WLC principles) showed a vision and broader view on whole life cycle carbon assessments. Also, a review on the social impacts of circular economy on tenant engagement was highlighted. This is also being reported in a joint article of Halima and Sultan which is being published in Social and Cultural Aspects of the Circular Economy. Towards Solidarity and Inclusivity

Plastics in construction
Dr Katherine Adams (Alliance for Sustainable Building Products) presented and spoke about plastics in construction. But firstly, she introduced the organisation and the activities. One of the activities is reducing plastics in construction. Then, the context of plastic demand was being presented. The building and construction sector is responsible for about 20 – 25% of the plastic usage. The waste figures on plastics are not that promising in the light of circularity. There need to be more awareness for the drivers in the construction sector are still low. Because the basis of plastics are fossil fuels and – in the end – plastics consist of toxic components. The virtually plastic free houses, a demonstration exemplar of CHARM, is a positive and great example of how plastics can be dramatically reduced in construction. There are many alternatives for plastic components as this project shows. Plus, recycled plastics are a feedstock for construction material.

Demonstration exemplars of GreenSquareAccord
In the afternoon, we travelled to Bournville for a site visit on the Stirchley development. This is the second demonstration exemplar of GreenSquareAccord (GSA) in project CHARM. And afterwards, we’ve seen - and admired - the virtually plastic free houses in Redditch. The other demonstration exemplar of GSA in project CHARM.

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