Collaborate to create joint value, Rethink the business model, Incorporate digital technology
9Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
11Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
12Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
The construction industry has for a long time worked on the basis that waste is an inevitable by-product of doing business. Some 30% of all materials delivered to construction sites is wasted, usually ending up in landfill. In South Africa, millions of people live in poor quality housing in townships on the peripheries of cities.
These townships are a legacy of Apartheid, and their low-quality construction and distance from services and economic opportunity, effectively reinforce inequalities. It will become increasingly critical not only to recycle more construction waste, but also to repurpose perfectly good materials to address this imbalance.
Kausar Khan has worked on utility scale renewable energy projects in South Africa over the course of her career, as well as in building services and sustainability. She is an SDG ambassador and has a strong interest in the circular economy and use of technology for positive social impact. Together with her colleagues Jaco Kemp and Carin de Beer, she has been developing DigiYard for the past two years after winning the Arup innovation competition ‘Shaping our World’.
Arup is developing DigiYard as a digital platform that facilitates the flow of usable construction waste and surplus building material from construction sites to informal settlement upgrading projects. The platform aims to reduce construction waste in landfill whilst addressing the need for affordable, high quality building materials in the informal housing sector. Through the platform, construction companies donate materials and users pay a fee to use the app.
They typically pay half the price of materials they would have paid at the second-hand market. This means that low-income customers are able to purchase expensive materials at a lower cost, improving the quality and safety of their construction. Construction companies should ultimately be able to have a detailed understanding of their material waste streams in order to minimise waste and increase efficiencies.
Smaller construction companies in particular benefit from saving transport costs and landfill fees.