Problem addressed

Currently, many construction companies and estate owners want to see materials reused as a way of lowering costs and their environmental footprint. This information should also be captured at the pre-planning stage. They also frequently want to specify more secondary materials from either their own portfolio or from resellers. However, understanding which materials are in existing buildings, whether it is worth dismantling them, and identifying where they should go after deconstruction is a challenge for many industry participants.

Overview of start-up

Material Index principally provides pre-deconstruction auditing services (essentially an index of all the materials in a building about to be deconstructed) with combined brokerage and logistics support on the various materials that can be reused. This is available through a digital interface. Material Index is typically brought on during RIBA stages 1-3 but can also support just on brokerage of materials from site after stage 4. Material Index can also provide secondary material sourcing advice to clients, but this is done on a consultancy, not a platform basis.

The primary intention is to present the necessary information regarding which materials can be reused and how, with as much information as possible on the potential costs and benefits, through a digital interface so that clients can make informed decisions on reusing materials. Material Index has found that this greatly increases the amount of materials being reused on projects.

What makes the start-up innovative?

Material Index (MI) has a unique approach to capturing and presenting the catalogue of components within existing buildings. MI’s software has been used directly by third party demolition contractors. MI are also unique in providing an online interface for design partners so that they can re-use materials on a larger scale.

MI’s clients include many leading design, construction and real estate companies including: 3XN, British Land, Sir Robert McAlpine and General Demolition.

How the start-up has been designed to scale-up quickly

Material Index’s back-end technology has been designed to scale up with a robust modularised stack written in common programming languages hosted on a common cloud provider platform, thereby enabling rapid hiring and deployment. The business model is ultimately platform based, more than consultancy based, and is therefore inherently faster to grow.

A longer-term intention is to provide certification pathways for some of the materials, reducing the risk of specifying reused materials on projects. Any companies wanting to work with Material Index on this critical issue are encouraged to get in touch.