Vade-mecum for Off-Site Reuse

Legal and practical guidelines for the reclamation of reusable materials from public buildings, September 2015.

In present-day Belgium most reclamation of reusable building materials happens through haphazard links between demolition companies and the second-hand materials sector. Although effective in some cases, this way of working depends on the demolition company's willingness to devote time and energy to identifying, dismantling and selling reusable materials. Therefore, when time is too short or the commercial value of the materials is not known, the demolition company will favour the destructive disposal of the materials, which is always the simplest option, especially since the customer rarely specifies anything about it.

As a result, the reclamation sector has limited access to transformation projects with one of the highest reclamation potential: large-scale public buildings.

In the Vade-mecum for off-site reuse (download links below), we set out detailed guidelines for public authorities that intend to promote the reuse of construction materials released by public works in the Brussels-Capital Region. These guidelines are easily adaptable elsewhere in Belgium and in Europe. A legal expert joined our team specifically for this project, which combines an in-depth investigation of the legal framework for the reuse of materials and public works with the practical expertise on the recovery of building components that Rotor has acquired over the years.

The Vade-mecum proposes a step-by-step method for organising the identification, recovery and transfer of reusable materials in accordance with public procurement legislation, taking advantage of the vacancy period that usually precedes the renovation of a building. Before the work period, the extraction of the materials can be entrusted to an actor specialized in reuse in 3 different ways : 1) a public sale, 2) a donation or 3) a public service contract. During the work period, an obligation of means can also be addressed to the general contractor. For each step, standard documents are provided in order to be used directly by the relevant public actor (the site manager, the drafter of the tender specifications, the sustainable development manager, etc.).

The Vade-mecum also sheds light on the often shady legal framework around reused materials and reclamation activities (download legal report below).

The long-term goal of the Vade-mecum is to become standard protocol for demolition projects of a certain scale carried out by public authorities in order to turn public works into exploitable and exemplary sources of reusable materials.



Sophie Seys (legal expert), Lionel Billiet, Maarten Gielen and Michaël Ghyoot.

With the help of:

Renaud Haerlingen, Tristan Boniver and Lionel Devlieger.

With the support of:

The Brussels environmental administration (Bruxelles Environnement – Leefmilieu Brussel).

With the support of