How should materials passports be implemented?

Image of the Edenica office project on which Waterman has been developing materials passports
The Edenica office project in the City of London on which Waterman has been developing materials passports

Multi-disciplinary consultant Waterman has launched a materials passport framework, aimed at standardising the approach to documenting and managing materials throughout their lifecycle, to improve their reuse. How should materials passports be implemented?

Waterman developed the materials passports framework off the back of its work on the Edenica office project in the City of London.

Materials passports are digital and interoperable datasets that collect the description of building materials to record what they are made of. They are seen as a tool to advance sustainability in the construction industry.

The data contained in the passports facilitates informed decision-making on efficient material reuse while resolving the ambiguity around specification, performance and warranties of used materials.

The new framework plots an implementation process, in particular for new components. Here’s a brief overview.

Project team coordination

“Initially, it is crucial for the project team to coordinate and identify the scope of works for materials passports in each project between RIBA Stages 2-3,” Waterman states. It recommends that all key members of the project team get involved at this step. However, the critical stakeholders are the building developer, project manager, the sustainability consultant and the core design team.

Employer’s Requirements specifications document

Following team coordination, Waterman suggests that, prior to the appointment of the principal contractor, the sustainability consultant produces an Employer’s Requirements specifications document for materials passports. This should define the requirements for the principal contractor regarding the passports. The document can include clarification of the format for the required information, specifications for data carriers, and specifications for the as-built BIM model.

Information collection

Waterman sets out the different stakeholders responsible for providing information for passports during the various stages of a material’s lifecycle. They are:

  • The manufacturing stage is documented by the manufacturers;
  • The construction stage is documented by the principal contractors;
  • The use stage is documented by the facilities manager;
  • The deconstruction stage is documented by the deconstruction/strip-out contractor;
  • The end-of-life stage is documented by the waste contractor.

Production of passports model

The project’s sustainability consultant should be responsible for producing the passports for the building using a materials passports platform. The materials passports model can be created by importing the necessary information into this platform.

Waterman suggests that the passports model is developed incrementally, in parallel with the construction programme. To manage the increased amount of data and its complexity, it proposes that a limited amount of information should be imported at a time.

Materials passport model ownership

After completing the model, it is crucial to determine the ownership of the passports. The owner is responsible for updating the information on the passports throughout the building and materials’ lifecycle, including maintenance and replacement. The ownership of passports can be transferred to different parties at various stages of the lifecycle.

Materials passport model verification

Waterman proposes that once a passport model is completed, it should undergo verification by a third party. This independent quality assurance and verification process will ensure the validity and robustness of the data.

Waterman also outlines how passports can be implemented on existing buildings and how to approach materials or elements that are already reused.

Next steps

Waterman is presenting its framework to “various industry bodies” for feedback, with the aim of developing a final materials passports protocol.

The passports platform will need to be finalised as well.

Furthermore, a standardised methodology for the production of disassembly manuals, directly linked with passports, will need to be established.

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