Reduce, reuse and recycle – drywall building techniques highlighted by Saint-Gobain

Buildings constructed using drywall technology rather than traditional blockwork can be put up and bought into operation far more quickly according to technical experts at Saint-Gobain Gyproc.

A session outlining the use of recycled and lightweight methods in construction took place at the company’s 350 anniversary event, held in Abu Dhabi.

Drywall techniques developed by the firm for the Middle East makes use of gypsum quarried in Oman – which when heated is reformed as plaster and when added to water can be used again.

“It is totally recyclable,” said Daniel Easter, a plant manager for the company who said the process had been developed in conjunction with Abu Dhabi’s eco-city of Masdar and the emirate’s New York University.

The company said getting its technical staff involved from the concept stages of a project means there is less wastage on site and costs can be kept to a minimum.

Jason Hird, senior technical development manager, said: “I like to emphasise what I call the ‘three rs’ – reduce, reuse and recycle. Gypsum is a material which is fit for purpose as it is quarried reasonably locally and when it needs to be recycled can be heated to split its chemical structure to form plaster.

“Mixing with water will then return it to a substance which can be moulded and so there is no need for more virgin rock to be extracted.”

Research has revealed drywall is up to 10 times less in weight than blockwork and so a 65% reduction in a building’s dead load – the weight of the structure and immovable features such as walls – can be obtained.

It can also be half the thickness of the traditional building blocks and so allow up to 6% more floor space.

Other studies have shown using the materials mean a 75% drop in deliveries to a construction site and 65% less use of forklift trucks.

Hird said: “What takes 20 weeks to construct using blockworks takes just seven to do using drywall. The contractor gets off the site and onto the next project more quickly and if it’s a hospital the operator gets patients in more quickly for treatment or if it’s a hotel the rooms can be let to paying customers sooner.”