There's a really interesting piece on the AJ's Footprint blog covering a workshop on demolition and recycling. So many calculations about embodied energy make assumptions about what will happen to materials at the end of a building's life, that it is fascinating to learn about what is done in reality, about the potential and the pitfalls. The holy grail, of course, is to actually re-use materials, ideally in situ. It was enlightening to see how little brick was actually re-used at the Olympics. On contrast, at the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool, 90 per cent of the brick from the previous building is being used - perhaps a question of scale? The re-use is assisted by the fact that the original building was old enough to have used lime mortar, which is much easier to break up than modern, cement-based mortars.
The AJ article also looked at Oxford Wood Recycling, an admirable organisation that belies its name by concentrating on re-use and recovery rather than recycling. It is unable to satisfy demand, an indication that there is certainly room for more such enterprises - especially if the demolition industry can get organised.