Building a sustainable future

Professor Gabriela Medero with her revolutionary K-Briq
Professor Gabriela Medero with her revolutionary K-Briq

Professor Gabriela Medero is a civil engineer who, for years, has been concerned about the huge amounts of waste produced in the construction industry. After many years of research, testing and development, she has produced a solution with revolutionary potential.

How big is the issue of waste in the construction industry?

The construction and demolition sector is the largest contributor of waste globally. Around a third of the one hundred and twenty million tonnes of waste produced in the UK comes from construction and demolition.

Forty five percent of total UK carbon emissions come from construction and thirty two percent of landfill waste comes from construction and demolition in the country.

You’ve been working on this for a long time, why now?

Continuing in this way just isn’t sustainable. The UK’s construction industry is under increasing pressure to reduce waste and meet recycling targets of 70% of all building waste to be recycled from the year 2020. This has meant companies, governments and other funders have been focusing on real world solutions to reduce waste. For example, Zero Waste Scotland funded our prototype.

So, what’s the solution?

Here at Heriot-Watt, we’ve created a brick made of 90% recycled construction and demolition waste and requires one tenth of the energy to manufacture compared to traditional bricks.

This allows a much more circular approach as taking the waste from a building site, recycling it, making it into a new building material and taking it back to the building site will answer so many problems for the industry.

When will the construction industry start to use your new bricks?

Thanks to funding from the Scottish Enterprise (High Growth Spin-Out Programme), the Royal Academy of Engineering, Construction Scotland Innovation Centre as well as Zero Waste Scotland, we’re in the process of taking the ‘K-Briq’ from prototype to market. The first building with K-Briq is starting construction this year and we are now taking orders for 2020.

Key information

Gabriela Medero