Jan Snel

What is circular construction?

Circular construction means that all products, materials and raw materials can be reused over and over again, retaining their value as much as possible. This is what we call the closed circuit. We also look at the origin of the materials, not just their capacity for repurposing and reuse. Jan Snel wants to provide insight into the entire environmental impact (including CO2 emissions and waste treatment) of every product, from the cradle to the grave.

Our circular-construction ambitions

The construction and real estate sector in the Netherlands is a major consumer of primary raw materials. Additionally, the sector is responsible for no less than 50 per cent of CO2 emissions and 45 per cent of waste production. Jan Snel wants to drastically reduce these percentages. We are working towards the ability to produce and build in a fully circular way within the next few years.

Sustainability is a major international political priority. The Dutch government, for example, has set a goal of converting to a completely circular economy by 2050. Jan Snel wants to work towards this zero-waste policy today by reusing all materials at the highest standard and moving to manufacturing that’s 100% circular in the near future.

The goal is to contribute to a sustainable future for both the economy and the environment. Materials retain their value because they can be reused, which is also financially attractive. Additionally, circular plans are less expensive for building owners. Comfort levels are increasing because it is more likely that ecological materials such as stone wool and wood-fibre insulation will be used in the future.

The design phase of our modular construction takes the reusability of products into account. Jan Snel manufactures units that can be used in a variety of ways, with a standardised size of 3 x 6 metres. Production workers can reposition the walls to make a space larger or smaller. The demountable units are easily disassembled and can be rebuilt at another location, which is why modular construction is also called flexible construction.

Because of this flexibility, modular construction can always be adjusted to meet societal demands. Student homes are easily converted to senior homes, for example, and an office building in Amsterdam can quickly become a school in Rotterdam. The demountable structures and materials remain available, so there is little-to-no waste when a building is no longer needed.

Reusing our modules creates significant sustainability gains, but we are not all the way there yet. Jan Snel has set a goal to be building in a completely closed cycle in the near future. To achieve this, we work with a revolutionary platform: EcoChain. This platform allows us to test all phases of production for, among other things, CO2 emissions and waste processing. We hope that our work with this platform will encourage other companies to pursue circularity throughout their production chains.

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