The restoration of the Ukrainian infrastructure after the war should take place already on new bases and principles

The war is already raising the question of the principles of post-war reconstruction of Ukraine, taking into account construction and dismantling works, waste processing. It is important to take into account the priority implementation of green technologies – in general, buildings are responsible for 40% of energy consumption and about 47% of CO2 emissions in the entire life cycle.

New standards

In 2020-2021, with our participation, DSTU 9171:2021 «Instruction on ensuring balanced use of natural resources during construction design» was developed, and in 2022 – issued. It approves the reuse and recycling of materials and products at a level of at least 70%, which is part of the implementation of the agreement with the EU.

DSTU 9171 offers three types of architectural and building systems (ABS): optimal, rational and critical. The key differences between ABS types are the duration of the service life, the possibility of replacing architectural and planning solutions (partitions) and enclosing structures during the life cycle, and their durability. Unfortunately, building emergencies, especially those caused by military events, have shown the vulnerability of critical ABS such as reinforced concrete panel buildings to progressive failure. In fact, for many of them, the «rule of two walls» does not work, which should give at least a little protection to the residents in case of sudden shelling. Therefore, panel solutions should be completely abandoned in the future.

The DSTU also describes the criteria for the rational use of natural resources in the reconstruction of ABS and methods of reducing financial costs for building maintenance, provides a methodology for taking into account the ecological efficiency of the use of building materials during design at different levels of analysis, as well as a methodology for determining the effects of implementing measures for the balanced use of natural resources resources.

Life cycle

The economic criterion for choosing a building form should be comprehensive and take into account all components of its life cycle, using the principle of minimizing its final cost. At the same time, the cost of the actual life cycle of the building (LCC) and the cost of the entire life of the building (Whole Life Cycle Costing) are distinguished. Calculations of LCA and LCCA of the life cycle make it possible to assess the feasibility of restoring buildings. It is known that the specific share of the costs of the building’s life cycle aggregated phases is 12.6% for the construction phase, and 85.4% for the operation phase. At the same time, the key architectural and planning and constructive decisions that will affect the emissions and costs of residential buildings are laid precisely at the stages of planning and design.

Recently, the concept of life cycle thinking has been spreading in the world. This is the process of taking into account, when making decisions, the projected volumes of resource consumption, environmental and human burdens associated with the full life cycle of the product. According to it, the socio-economic effect of the implementation of the project can also be calculated as avoiding losses and saving costs associated with reducing the probability of negative consequences for the enterprise and the state as a whole, in connection with compensation for loss of working capacity, payments for compensation for losses and underachieved GDP, or vice versa in the form of additional GDP generation. For example, an increase in construction terms due to ill-conceived logistics or a large weight of materials delivered to the site – leads to unproductive costs, reducing specific indicators of GDP, and intensification and optimization of processes and structures – increases specific indicators of GDP. On the other hand, GDP is currently not considered as an absolute measure of the success and well-being of mankind, and the general growth of the economy is limited by the capacity of ecosystems and the exhaustion of resources. For buildings, life cycle thinking includes consideration of climate change adaptation needs at the construction planning stage.

Basic principles

Therefore, it is possible to highlight the principles that should be followed by the restored construction in order to comply with the principles of the circular economy:

  1. Optimized project solutions. This means a significant involvement of waste, the ability to reconstruct, add, change the functionality of the building; ecological passports of products and reuse scenarios, solutions and materials are safe for the environment; high factory availability, modularity and unification of structures, compatibility and interchangeability when used for other purposes if necessary.
  2. Ecological mining, circular steel and manufacturing industry. We have a chance to restore steel industry in an ecological format, with the use of mainly local raw materials and materials, the use of low-emission logistics, and a significant content of scrap. We need a new ecological steel sector.
  3. High percentage of reuse of elements, remnants of destruction. Military demolition waste is different from construction waste – individually all of these residues could be used, but in their current state they are mixed and require very careful sorting. Steel is not environmentally friendly. It becomes so when used repeatedly. A significant part of the destruction of buildings is made up of steel waste, especially at industrial facilities. In addition to the raw material base as scrap metal, finished steel elements can be used in new buildings and in the repair of existing ones. In some cases, entire steel-framed buildings can be moved to new, more suitable locations.
  4. Component sustainability information, databases and assessment tools are available to market participants. The introduction of mandatory environmental certification of construction products in Ukraine, such as the Environment Product Declaration (EPD), can allow diversification of taxation, and the consumer will have open information about the ecological footprint of the product, which will enable him to choose consciously, monitor products with planned premature obsolescence.
  5. Decision evaluation models are based on ecological and economic analysis of the life cycle (LC). In the solutions, key components should be optimized as a result of the analysis of the LC at all stages; long-lasting, economical and ecological solutions are provided according to the criteria of the residential complex; there are building certification systems that encourage the use of eco-materials, regulatory and fiscal instruments related to the associated emissions during housing, which encourage the customer to use certified eco-materials, and there is decision control.
  6. The resistance of buildings and structures to external actions and the reliability of solutions ensure longevity of operation. Single survivability must be ensured in building frames due to multi-cohesion, absence of key vulnerable places, space organization, etc.; an acceptable level of civil security and stability has been achieved at the same time. This is extremely important against permanent military threats.
  7. The solutions facilitate repairs, reconstruction, relocation and ultimately dismantling, reuse, and ecosystem restoration. Installation welding should be minimized in buildings; the availability of replacement of elements at the end of the life cycle is provided; the physical possibility of reusing elements or entire buildings or frames at the end of operation, moving the building to a new location with minimal costs. Renovations, superstructures and reconstructions, repairs and re-equipment of networks, change of purpose should be relatively easy, and the involvement of temporary elements should be minimized, or they should have a high degree of reuse, or be included in permanent use in the building and not leave the site. Mainly the local origin of resources and the location of waste disposal sites at relatively short distances significantly increase the sustainability of buildings.

In European practice, energy-intensive industries such as steel sector, chemical industry and cement production are essential to the EU economy as part of several key value chains. Decarbonisation and modernization of industry are extremely important. The developed EU action plan for the implementation of the circular economy covers all sectors of the economy. The European Commission’s efforts will focus on resource-intensive sectors such as textiles, construction, electronics and plastics. The way steel is made along the entire chain must be environmentally friendly. To this end, it is possible and expedient to switch to more ecological energy sources and methods for steel production.

Prospects of the construction industry

The introduction of mandatory environmental and economic assessment of residential buildings should be a “game-changer”, which will lead to a breakthrough in construction, as it will boost digitalization, appropriate regulatory policy, and new approaches in production and operation.

As a result of hostilities, about 15.2 billion tons of waste was generated from the destruction of buildings and structures in Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy regions alone. Currently, processing of such a volume of construction waste is not yet possible in Ukraine, although, for example, in Austria, about 87% of construction and demolition waste is processed. Thus, during the post-war reconstruction, the question of maximum loading of metallurgy and production of metal structures, as well as the creation of conditions for processing construction waste, will arise.

In developed countries, steel is much more widely used in construction than in Ukraine. In our country, the majority of multi-storey residential buildings are made with a reinforced concrete frame. Steel in these projects is used in the form of reinforcement, which reinforces reinforced concrete structures.

However, using metal instead of concrete has a number of advantages.

  • steel structures make it possible to implement complex architectural solutions;
  • it is easy to re-plan existing buildings and structures;
  • steel structures can be produced separately and installed already on the construction site in a very short time;
  • constructions are lighter in weight, they create less load on the foundation;
  • steel can be almost completely recycled, while the utilization of reinforced concrete is extremely difficult;
  • steel structures can be used in industrial facilities, low-rise public and residential buildings, which is important for the rapid restoration of the destroyed infrastructure of Ukraine.

There may be different situations in different objects: concrete is more effective in some, metal in others. Ideally, a comparative analysis should be carried out for each object, which structures and materials will be more effective for construction, especially taking into account the operation of the objects.

Undoubtedly, the construction industry, sustainable production – suffered huge losses in Ukraine. For example, steel facilities in Mariupol were almost completely destroyed. But the front of work from reconstruction to victory is also significant. The reconstruction of Ukraine, the formation of a fortress state, require new approaches to management. The renewed Ukraine, which should appear after the victory, should be built on the principles of life cycle economy and national security. Taking into account the critical shortage of resources in the conditions of war and post-war times, the methods of economic complex design and analysis of the life cycle should become fundamental when choosing solutions. The revival of the construction industry, along the entire chain of value creation, gives a chance to rebuild fundamentally new technological equipment, with high levels of resource and energy efficiency, instead of destroyed enterprises, to holistically consider the components of sustainable development. It also offers hope for a new world free from dependence on fossil fuels and based on the principles of sustainable development.