The Closed Loop Building Materials Facility

View a YouTube video demonstrating the Closed Loop Building Facility Henrion Building Facade

The closed-loop system invented by Professor Michael Anderson and his team provides a method of producing high quality sustainable building products from previously unusable-quality waste glass. Using this innovative process he can produce paving slabs, external wall cladding-slips, floor tiles and construction blocks. Not only are the products themselves green, but the brick-slip product offer considerable building scope as when combined with a highly insulating backing-panel structure, the system can be used as ‘over-cladding’, thereby greatly improving the insulation of non-cavity wall Victorian/Edwardian dwellings. At the same time the visual appearance of the original structures can be preserved, as the slips can be manufactured to match the appearance of the original early brickwork. Thus allowing look-alike appearances to be maintained, this will help to contribute to the solution of preserving our heritage.

The process could also be very useful in urbanising and developing countries where rapidly growing populations are creating vast amounts of waste glass which is being dumped in landfill but which could actually be used in environmentally friendly construction projects. This would be particularly useful for tourist islands which import thousands if not millions of drink bottles every year and have to pay very high prices to then have them shipped off the island, but which could be used to regenerate existing holiday resorts.  
Finally, the process itself is self-sustaining. Unlike clay and concrete, the recycled glass products can be easily disassembled at the end of their life and recycled back into new building materials again and again and could change the entire way we think about building. This promises to make a significant contribution to sustainability in the future!   

The project was recently shortlisted for the IET Awards which celebrates the very best innovations in Science, Engineering and Technology and attracts over 400 entries from over 30 Countries with only 74 finalists being selected.

If you are interested in the project and would like to investigate further opportunities to how this could be scaled up and have potential to be commercialised please contact the team at the Office of Sustainability via or phone 01782  295837.


Priority Areas and Future Trends in the Built Environment

The UK construction industry is a large part of the economy: annual output in 2011 was £107bn. It accounts for 7.6% of UK GVA and directly employs approximately two million people. About a third of all UK construction is procured by the public sector.

Growing and aging populations, rapid urbanisation, new customer trends, changing infrastructure demands and more stringent environmental regulation are all putting pressure on our buildings, and simultaneously creating innovation opportunities. 

Within the UK, some of the largest environmental impacts are from operating buildings. To start to tackle these challenges the whole lifecycle of a building needs to be considered.  From concept – to design and construction – in commissioning and hand-over – during operation and adaption – and through to demolition and re-use –  where the cycle starts again.

The Technology Strategy Board leads in this area, with a variety of programmes and tools designed to accelerate innovation to improve sustainability in the built environment.


Within the UK, around 45% of total UK carbon emissions come from buildings – 27% from domestic buildings and 18% from non-domestic buildings. Much of these emissions come from space heating and hot water provision. 

Construction, globally and in the UK, has a strong subcontracting culture. This means that information and innovation can spread slowly, and contracting practice limits novel approaches or technologies due to concerns over product and professional liability – both the industry and the consumer are conservative and risk averse.


The UK has demanding targets, backed up by policy and legislation, to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. This will require far-reaching changes in design, construction, operation, refurbishment and demolition (for re-use) across the domestic and commercial built environment.

 A rapidly emerging priority for innovation is the need to lift the focus from individual buildings to groups of buildings and ultimately cities.

 To reap the greatest benefits from the needs of adaptability, efficiency and resilience requires a more holistic whole life approach; from cradle, to grave, and repeating again, and again. When considering our buildings we need to think more broadly to include the emerging social dynamics, buildings as clusters, the communities within, and all the players along the full lifecycle of buildings.

The Technology Strategy Board and Future Funding

The Technology Strategy Board established the Low Impact Buildings Innovation Platform in 2008 to support UK industry in supplying the growing market for low-impact domestic and non-domestic new build and retrofit and to support delivery of the DCLG Code for Sustainable Homes by 2016. In consultation with industry, government and the knowledge base, the Low Impact Buildings Innovation Platform is focusing on six challenges where they can effectively support innovation:

  • Design for future climate change
  • Design and decision tools
  • Build process; allowing the supply chain to innovate together 
  • Management and performance of buildings
  • Materials and components for sustainable buildings
  • Integrating with sustainable infrastructure.