Assessing the circular re-design of prefabricated building envelope elements for carbon neutral renovation

Buildings and the construction industry at large are significant contributors to the catastrophic climate breakdown. The built environment is responsible for 37% of the total global carbon emission, of which about a third arises from the energy used to produce building and construction materials, usually referred to as embodied carbon. One of the key strategies to reduce the environmental impact of buildings is to significantly improve their energy efficiency, which is referred to as deep renovation. Prefabricated building envelope elements intended to prevent heat loss through the building envelope are considered a key deep-renovation technology. Connecting prefabricated elements to a building reflects a potential stream of waste if applied linearly with severe negative environmental impact in terms of natural resource depletion and exposure to pollutants. This article reports on a quantitative Design for Disassembly (Dfd) indicator to assess future recovery potential and, subsequently, its impact on embodied carbon emission of the circular redesign of three different prefabricated building envelope elements. Although none of the redesigned elements are yet considered 100% circular, the development of these three prefabricated building envelope elements showcases that the environmental impact can be substantially reduced following a well-structured and dedicated innovation process. The reduction of the environmental impact is indicated by lower quantities of embodied carbon up to 50% and an improved design for disassembly, reflecting a higher reuse potential of building materials and components. Several limitations and directions for further research were identified to advance the development of circular, prefabricated deep-renovation building envelope elements.

What was the DRIVE 0 project about? A full publishable report on the project’s results

┬źDRIVE 0 – Driving decarbonization of the EU building stock by enhancing a consumer centred and locally based circular renovation process┬╗
The DRIVE 0 project deals with the promotion of strategies for the decarbonisation of the existing building stock through the implementation of deep renovation interventions. The project aims at promoting the adoption of a circular approach in renovation processes that, in order to be attractive and effective, must be based on the customer’s actual needs.
According to the DRIVE 0 approach, circular retrofitting is based on the use of energy from renewable sources and the use of materials from biological or technical cycles, in which waste production is minimised and end-of-life strategies with a positive impact on the environment are envisaged.

Not all homeowners are alike: a segmentation model based on a quantitative analysis of Dutch adopters of residential photovoltaics.

The implementation of residential photovoltaics must increase more rapidly to combat climate change and its impacts. This challenge is addressed in this study by introducing a segmentation model in order to develop a theoretical and empirical foundation for understanding the heterogeneity of potential adopters. Data were collected by means of a survey among Dutch adopters […]

Justice in social housing: Towards a people-centred energy renovation process.

he annual renovation rate of the existing housing stock must increase rapidly to reach climate neutrality by 2050. This transition will require major investments but will also need to be affordable for everyone. Affordability is especially relevant for vulnerable and low-income households, many of which live in social housing in the Netherlands. Previous studies show […]

Crossing multiple solar energy gaps: A Dutch case study on intermediation for building-integrated photovoltaics

Het artikel geeft inzicht in welke knelpunten er nog zijn in het besluitvormingsproces van huiseigenaren over BIPV, en hoe bemiddeling (intermediation) door formele en informele partijen, zoals de overheid, BIPVNL, architecten, consultants, energy coaches, maar ook vrienden en familie in het sociaal netwerk van huiseigenaren, kunnen bijdragen in de versnelling van de opschaling van BIPV […]

Environmental impact evaluation of energy saving and energy generation: case study for two Dutch dwelling types Building and Environment

The existing building stock is a logical target to improve the level of sustainability of the built environment by energy saving measures. These measures typically entail a decrease of operational energy demand, mainly by adding building components such as insulation packages and energy generating devices. Consequently, material related environmental impact might create a collateral disproportionate […]

Advanced light management techniques for two-terminal hybrid tandem solar cells

Multi-junction solar cells are considered for various applications, as they tackle various loss mechanisms for single junction solar cells. These losses include thermalization and non-absorption below the band gap. In this work, a tandem configuration comprising copper-indium-gallium-di-selenide (CIGS) and hydrogenated amorphous silicon (a-Si:H) absorber layers is studied. Two main challenges are addressed in this work. […]

Are energy decisions about energy?

Research shows that buildings should use 80% less energy in 2050 to counter climate change and to reduce dependence on fossil fuels [1, 2]. To achieve this in the Netherlands, 75% of the Dutch houses should be renovated [3] with a pace of 300,000 houses each year [2]. This can be achieved by one-off energy […]