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"Attractive and uncommon" – Residents' views on the utilisation of recycling materials in apartment buildings

This survey presents views on the utilisation of recycling materials in apartment buildings as stated by residents of VAV Asunnot Oy's rental apartments. Its goal was to gather information for the design of a new rental apartment building with balanced natural resources, which will be constructed by VAV Asunnot Oy for the housing fair in Marja-Vantaa.

The empirical data was gathered by way of an electronic questionnaire in December 2011. 259 residents took part in the survey.

The participants' attitudes towards the utilisation of recycled materials in construction were very positive. Most of them stated that they would readily accept familiar materials with an attractive image in their homes, for example laminated timber and recycled glass. For less common materials, answers ranged from curiosity to doubts and refusal, or were left blank. Some respondents expressed a particular interest in uncommon, "odd" products, such as used steel containers, fly ash boards and recycled plastics. Some would not accept any recycling materials for residential construction. In general, the favoured applications for recycling materials included locations not continually in the resident’s line of sight, e.g. yard tiles, facades, insulation (wall, roof or floor) or the building's core structure.

When asked about factors encouraging the use of recycling materials, respondents referred to the promotion of recycling and its image, the visual appeal and comfort value of the material, lower costs of living, improvements to the functionality and convenience of the apartment, and the use of domestic materials. Discouraging factors, on the other hand, included doubts as to whether the materials might have detrimental effects on the residents' everyday life – particularly their health – and to their functionality, durability and aesthetics.

The decisive factor for ultimate acceptance is how well buildings made from recycled materials will function in practice. Successful recycling building projects are believed to raise esteem for such houses and residential areas, and to encourage the use of alternative materials in construction. Reliable information on recycling materials and their potential effects on the residents' everyday lives was named as the key requirement for the widespread use of such materials.

"Attractive and uncommon" – Residents' views on the utilisation of recycling materials in apartment buildings (2012). National Consumer Research Centre, publications 3 (pdf in Finnish).
Kaarina Hyvönen, Erja Pylvänäinen, Jenni Väliniemi-Laurson

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