The use of smart technologies in enabling construction components reuse: A viable method or a problem creating solution?

Eleni Iacovidou, Phil Purnell, Ming Lim

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    The exploitation of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) for tracking and archiving the properties of structural construction components could be a potentially innovative disruption for the construction sector. This is because RFID can stimulates the reuse of construction components and reduces their wastage, hence addressing sustainability issues in the construction sector. To test the plausibility of that idea, this study explores the potential pre-conditions for RFID to facilitate construction components reuse, and develops a guidance for promoting their redistribution back to the supply chain. Integrating RFID with Building Information Modelling (BIM) can be a potentially valuable extention of its capabilities, providing the opportunity for tracked components to be incorporated into new structures in an informed, sound way. A preliminary assessment of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the RFID technology is presented in order to depict its current and future potential in promoting construction components’ sustainable lifecycle management,while emphasis has been laid on capturing their technical, environmental, economic and social value. Findings suggest that the collection of right amount of information at the design-construction-deconstruction-reuse-disposal stage is crucial for the RFID to become a successful innovation in the construction sector. Although a number of limitations related to the technical operability and recycling of RFID tags seem to currently withhold its uptake for structural components’ lifecycle management, future technological innovations could provide solutions , henceenabling it to become a mainstream practice. Taken together these suppositions advocate that the use of RFID and is integration with BIM can create the right environment for the development of new business models focused on sustainable resource management. These models may then unlock multiple values that are otherwise dissipated in the system. With proper technological innovation pace enhancing the capabilities of RFID, and with policy interventions controlling and managing its uptake at all stages of the supply chain, construction components sustainable lifecycle management might soon be realised.

    Publisher Statement: This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)214-223
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Environmental Management
    Early online date5 May 2017
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2018


    • Construction and demolition waste (CDW)
    • Structural components
    • RFID
    • Reuse
    • Information flow
    • Lifecycle valuation


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