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. Even if effective in some cases, this way of working hinges on the willingness of the demolition company to allocate time and brainpower to do the job of identifying, dismantling and selling reusable materials. As a result, when time is too short or when the commercial value of the materials is unknown, the demolition company will favor the destructive disposal of the materials which always is the simplest option, especially since the client rarely specifies anything on that matter.

As a result, the reclamation sector has only limited access to those transformation projects which yield some of the highest reclamation potential: large-scale public buildings.

In the Vade-mecum for off-site reuse (download links below), we set out comprehensive guidelines to the attention of public authorities who intend to favor the reuse of building 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 fuses a thorough investigation into the legal framework of material reuse and public works and the hands-on expertise on salvaging building components Rotor acquired along the years.

The Vade-mecum proposes a step-by-step method to organize the identification, reclamation and transfer of reusable materials in accordance with the 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 assigned to a specialized reuse player under 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