The technical life cycle of conventional housing is about 75-100 years. However due to frequent changes of users and their needs the service life in building use is becoming shorter. Thus this forces the alterations to come quicker. Nevertheless most of the buildings are not designed with capacity to change. For that reason building components are usually put together into one dependent structure, preventing replace-ability of maintenance or use sensitive components.
The inability to remove and exchange building systems and their components results in large quantities of waste (19 million tones is the yearly production of construction and demolition waste CDW* (CDW) in the Netherlands) and significant energy inputs.
Therefore the improvement of the building's capacity to adapt to the new needs by providing preconditions for transformation, re-use and recycling of building and its components, can be seen as a key issues of sustainable development in the future.
The discussion in this paper is based on the assumption that greater capacity to change means greater flexibility and environmental efficiency, therefore greater sustainability. In order to clarify this, one case study was chosen.
The first aim of the case study was to show the advantages of different flexibility scenarios and their influence on the environment. The second aim was to establish the critical points in design for environment efficient transformation of buildings and their system.
This was done by comparing two housing concepts (conventional and flexible) on two the building level: levels: building level (evaluating the capacity of lay out flexibility) and system level (evaluating the capacity of systems flexibility). The capacity analysiss were was preliminarily focused on disassembly characteristics of building structures as the indicators of building’s flexibility.
Furthermore the relation between technical and service-life of the building components was established. This method was used to define the hierarchy from fixed to exchangeable components, which indicated the disassembly strategy. This strategy was taken as the starting point for measuring the building’s or system’s capacity to change and its environmental impact.
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