Solutions for sustainable challenges in construction

Picture of builders working on a roof.
Can we create a new market for recycling materials within the construction industry? This is one of the questions that a construction company  has asked VIA’s building and engineering students to help answer.
The construction company Enemærke and Petersen has entered into a partnership with VIA University College to develop ideas for solutions for the future challenges of the construction industry.

How can we recycle more building waste from renovation projects? Can we create a new market for recycling materials within the construction industry? And can we learn from other industries and professions when we are to create green solutions to the challenge of waste that will be even greater in the future?

These are just some of the questions that the construction company Enemærke and Petersen has asked VIA’s building and engineering students to help answer. Through crowdsourcing, the students get the opportunity to come up with ideas for solving the challenge of waste within the construction industry.

“When we collaborate with students, we get access to far more ideas than we could ever generate ourselves. Our employees are skilled at building and renovating. But circular economy is an example of a new and current agenda that we need to address. So it’s vital for us to hear what the future generation of engineers and designers see as solutions to this problem,” says Anders Sørensen, business developer at Enemærke and Petersen.

A joint platform for idea development

Enemærke and Petersen collaborates with students using the platform VIA Connect. Here, companies define a problem that they want help in solving. Students then have the opportunity to submit their solution proposals – either as a mandatory part of their studies or as volunteers. At the end, the best ideas are awarded in partnership with the company.

According to Anders Sørensen, this model works well, because it allows companies to work with students across disciplines and countries in a safe environment.

“Over the years, I’ve given a number of presentations to students, and that has led to many good ideas. But it’s good that we have now formalised our collaboration through VIA Connect, so that both we and the students can collaborate safely on a closed platform,” he says.

Talent-spotting and branding

However, Anders Sørensen does not hide the fact that collaborating with VIA is also a good way to spot and attract future talent.

“If we are given an idea that can be implemented tomorrow, then of course we do it. So there are many opportunities for both us and the students, if they can show an ability for and understanding of our challenge,” he says.

Project manager of the partnership at VIA Connect Rakel Nåvik agrees. She coordinates the business cases with the programmes and the students, and she already has several good examples of what crowdsourcing can result in.

“We have worked with both public organisations, such as Central Denmark Region, and private companies, such as H2O. And in each case, our partners got ideas and solutions that they wouldn’t have come up with themselves. At the same time, our students have gained experience in solving practice challenges and showing what they can do for a potential future employer. So it’s win-win,” says Rakel Nåvik.