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Circular Economy 360 Video Series – Thomas Romm, BauKaurussel

Welcome to our Circular Economy 360 Video Series featuring Thomas Romm of BauKaurussel, brought to you in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland. In this series SIS Associate Naomi Johnson speaks with inspiring leaders from around the world to find out their amazing experiences within the Circular Economy sector.

The Zero Waste Scotland website notes that “the construction sector is the largest consumer of natural resources and the largest contributor to waste in Scotland, accounting for at least 50% of our overall waste”. For those of us deeply rooted in waste and circular economy issues this has long been a cause for concern and it was something that architect Thomas Romm was also keen to look at and he set about this, working alongside two fellow founders, in establishing BauKaurussel, based in Vienna.

In this interview we hear Thomas talk about ‘social urban mining‘  –  a concept that combines the circular approach to decommissioning with social added value. BauKarussell is the first Austrian cooperation that addresses reuse in buildings at large scale. Together with property developers, the consortium removes selected materials and products for reuse and recycling.  The operational work is performed by transit employees from social enterprise organisations such that people gain work, training, and support to find their way back to the labour market.

Much of the focus of Net Zero and buildings centres on refitting new technology to older buildings or increased environmental standards in new builds. This urban mining approach notes how demolition and what happens to empty buildings is also key in looking at sustainability.

We talk through what can be salvaged and how to prioritise material recovery to aid cash flow; we look at how relationships are developed with building contractors and of course, consider the social impacts that derive from the work too.

With derelict land, empty buildings and on-going work on land reform, perhaps the social enterprise sector can offer some solutions that will be of benefit to people and planet. This interview will be of interest both for employment focused organisations, communities operating in areas where building and urban landscapes are forever changing, and of course the construction sector. Perhaps we too could develop a ‘BauKaurussel’ social enterprise here in Scotland?

Thomas Romm, Architect and Founder of BauKaurussel

Thomas Romm, ArchitectThomas Romm, is a civil engineer and architect with a focus on the environmental effectiveness of planning and building. As a pioneer and expert in circular economy, his architectural office “forschen planen bauen” has been working since 2010, in bidding consortium with Dr. Roland Mischek ZT, on the handling of large construction sites, mainly in Viennese residential construction.  He is the founder of BauKarussell, a cooperation network of socio-economic enterprises for the re-use of building components.

Thomas Romm teaches ecology for architects at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna at the Institute for Art and Architecture (IKA).