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Metabolism of materials by the construction sector in developing countries : Costa Rica as a case study

Delft University of Technology
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  • Design
  • Ecology
  • Geography


The construction industry and related ones are considered the world’s largest industrial employer and natural resources consum METABOLISM OF MATERIALS BY THE CONSTRUCTION SECTOR IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES: COSTA RICA AS CASE STUDY MSc. Lilliana Abarca Guerrero1 Prof. Ir. F.M. Scheublin2 and Dr. ir. E.L.C. van Egmond 2 Dr. Ir. A.J.D. Lambert3 Keywords: industrial metabolism, material flow, construction sector, waste composition, causes Abstract Production practices require large amounts of materials and are not likely to be sustained without large implication for the environment. Materials and energy are put together in order to produce goods and the total of these physical processes have been referred by Ayres and Simons as “Industrial Metabolism”, which was defined as “the whole integrated collection of physical processes that convert raw materials, plus labour, into finished products and wastes in a (more or less) steady-state condition”. A good understanding of societal metabolism is likely to contribute to more sustainable production and consumption. The construction industry and its related materials, service, and supply feeder industries are jointly considered to be both the world’s largest industrial employer and the largest natural resources consumer as well as a great waste producer. In developing countries, construction waste is becoming a serious environmental problem due to the continuing growing population and urbanization, which demand material resources, water and energy. Information and data about the sector in those economies is scarce and some of the information found can’t be compared with other data. An assessment has been done in Costa Rica in order to understand how construction materials are metabolised (transformed) by the sector. The study provides an idea of the amount of waste generation and its composition. It also shows the causes, which are related to design, procurement, material handling, o

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