Design strategies to increase the reuse of wood materials in buildings: Lessons from architectural practice

Chiara Piccardo*, Mark Hughes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The use of wood-based products might contribute to the mitigation of climate change and resource depletion in the building sector. However, the increasing demand for wood-based products might generate a trade-off affecting biomass availability, forest ecosystem services, and the climate change mitigation potential of forests. Therefore, it is important to couple the use of wood-based products with the adoption of circular economy strategies. Upstream strategies can facilitate the future reuse of wood elements in new buildings, whilst downstream strategies aim at the reuse wood elements originating from demolished or disassembled buildings, in new buildings. The aim of this study was to identify patterns describing upstream and downstream strategies currently adopted in architectural practice. A sample of real-world case-study buildings was identified and the respective designers were interviewed. The interviews identified three patterns for upstream strategies, namely the reversibility of joints, independence of different building components and prefabrication, and two patterns for downstream strategies, namely the recovery of salvaged wood and adaptability of the building layout. Several challenges were also highlighted. The use of upstream and downstream strategies can increase the time (and costs) in the design and manufacturing phase. Downstream strategies can also be influenced by the quality of salvaged wood. Upstream strategies showed difficulties to comply with current building standards (e.g. acoustic standards). Finally, metrics and indicators are needed in order to measure the efficiency of wood recirculation in upstream and downstream strategies, as well as to support their implementation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number133083
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date20 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Cascading
  • Circular economy
  • Design for disassembly
  • Reuse
  • Wood
  • Wood buildings


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