A living laboratory is a space where research, industries and the community meet to co-create and co-innovate. The Legacy Living Lab is a perfect example of a living laboratory. We are currently linked to 23 industry partners.
Although recycling is one of the most popular ways of saving products from ending up in landfill, reuse is associated to lower environmental impact. That is because recycling often involves physical and chemical transformation of the material. Conversely, reuse limits these transformations, as reusable products are maintained as they are.
Many materials are wrongly considered recyclable. One of them is paper, as its fibers, cycle after cycle break-down. Concrete, in many instances is also downcycled instead of recycled. That is, because crushed concrete makes aggregates, not new concrete. In order to manufacture new concrete from these crushed aggregates, we need to add more virgin materials such as cement, filling and water.
In designing L3 we avoided the use of concrete for its structure and foundations. We salvaged about 20 tons of materials, including steel frames and carpet tiles. We made it movable and disassemblable, so that it can be relocated instead of demolished. We selected recycled materials, and what could not be disassembled or reused, is finally recyclable.
If L3 had been built in a regular fashion then the greenhouse gas equivalent impact would have been about 45 tons of CO2 equivalent. Instead, our life cycle assessment demonstrates that L3 is linked to only 5 tons of CO2 equivalent. That gives us a factor 10 environmental improvement. Learn more.
We opted for a micro-pile steel foundation system. It constitutes of four steel bars screwed into the soil at an angle which converges into a central steel plate. L3 is then bolted on the steel plates. In doing so, we avoided the use of 20 tons of concrete, and made L3 easy to detach from the ground. As the steel piles are recyclable, when we relocate L3 we will leave no waste behind.
We designed and built L3 as a prototype to test the extent to which we could apply circular economy to buildings. Today, L3 is a Curtin University building, and is used as a research facility.