The sector’s adverse effects on the environment are considerable:

Material Passports: A New Era in Developing Eco-Conscious Construction

With these factors in mind, since 2021, the Greater London Authority (GLA) has demanded that specific building projects submit a circular economy statementiii. This requires design teams to demonstrate their commitment to circularity initiatives and the whole-life carbon statement necessary to reduce the carbon impact.

Material passports are rapidly gaining traction for their potential to revolutionise building practices. The idea is to encourage material reuse during both the structure’s operational and end phases.

Many universities, companies, consultants, and policymakers across the European Unioniv are partnering in projects such as Building as Material Banks (BAMB), Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency (EPEA), and ActNow to drive the wider implementation of material passports.

Understanding Material Passports

Material passports record the origin, composition, environmental impact, and potential for reuse of every material used in a project. This process promotes a circular economy in the construction industry by ensuring materials are repurposed and recycled.

In 2021, an innovative design and architectural company released a research paper on developing material passports to unlock material reuse for existing buildings during the design processv. The company partnered with Dr. Ana Rute Costa, Course Leader in Architecture at Lancaster University, in 2023 to accelerate material reuse in construction, promote deconstruction over demolition, and integrate reused materials into the supply chain with funding support.

The study recommends using this concept to steer future policy direction on circularity and advises that building contractors should be expected to demonstrate compliance. It is created in collaboration with industry experts and geared towards London's experience — to adjust to current market needs, and encourages material reuse in construction to significantly reduce waste, lower the industry's carbon footprint, and contribute towards a more sustainable future.

What are the Key Benefits of Material Passports?

Comprehensive material documentation

Creating a complete inventory of a building's materials provides a level of detail crucial for maintenance and future renovations and ensures that materials are used to their full potential.

Efficient material reuse and recovery

Material passports make dismantling buildings for material recovery simpler. Efficient recycling and repurposing reduce the need for new resources by identifying the materials used and incorporated.

Improved building planning

Architects and builders can make informed decisions during the planning stage with detailed material information to hand. This approach encourages the development of creative designs that can be easily taken apart. It supports the construction of reversible buildings, modifying them without damaging the structure, products, components, or materials involved.

Minimising environmental impact

Material passports help lower the ecological footprint of construction projects by selecting sustainable materials and promoting their reuse.

Promoting the circular economy

Shifting away from traditional practices — a linear 'take, make, dispose' model — to a sustainable circular economy through tracking materials ensures the reuse of resources, significantly reducing waste and conserving raw materials.

The Insurer’s Angle

Like all responsible businesses, Insurance Companies are keen to show that they are playing their part in ensuring sustainability and promoting environmentally friendly practices. Insurers are a very significant buyer of materials, albeit at an arms length, as of course when a building is damaged and needs to be repaired or rebuilt, it is insurers who provide the funding for the project. When the first discussions started to take place regarding re-purposing used building materials, there was some concern about their suitability and whether they would be as robust as brand new materials. As this method has become more mainstream, with some very high profile new buildings using substantial quantities of recycled products, these concerns have largely proved unfounded. The introduction of a materials passport which provides full provenance of their former uses helps to reassure insurers and future users of the buildings that they are still entirely suitable for their new lease of life.

How can Gallagher help?

Adopting material passports is a necessary evolution in construction and shows commitment to environmental responsibility. This is a significant step towards sustainability in this sector.

At Gallagher, our team of construction specialists is here to help you navigate the evolving challenges faced by the construction, building and design sectors. Should you have any queries around the materials passport framework, please contact us and we can help guide you through the process. We can also support you with wider project risks and insurance protection, so please don’t hesitate to contact our team should you wish to discuss your requirements.

Construction projects with operational risks need a proactive and innovative risk management strategy. Such risk management strategies are dependent on comprehensive insurance protection. We're here to assist you whether you're seeking coverage for your entire business or specific projects. If you have any questions or need further information, please don't hesitate to contact our team.


i. Sisson, William. Comment: How greener buildings will pave the way for meeting climate goals. Reuters (Updated 31 Oct 2023).
ii. Net-zero buildings Halving construction emissions today. (Jan 2023). PDF. file
iii. Net-zero buildings Halving construction emissions today. (Jan 2023). PDF. file
iv. Net-zero buildings Halving construction emissions today. (Jan 2023). PDF. file
v. Net-zero buildings Halving construction emissions today. (Jan 2023). PDF. file


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