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Rianne Teeuwen

Date and time: 29-09-2023, 11:00 - 12:00
Location: Lecture hall E
Topic: Circularity of existing aluminium unitised curtain wall facades

Description: The circular potential of aluminium curtain wall facades is investigated in this study, primarily on reuse, refurbishment, and re-manufacturing to raise the value of materials that have not yet reached the end of their service life. The increasing concern about resource depletion, damage to the ecosphere and the need for sustainable development increases the demand for sustainable strategies in many industries. The building industry is one of the most polluting industries at current times and with governments incorporating laws regarding these topics, the need for methods to reduce the impact in this industry is needed. Facades have a great impact on the whole life carbon impact of a building and show potential in reuse situations. Scheldebouw, a facade producer in the Netherlands, connected to Permasteelisa, is looking for possible ways to make the construction industry more sustainable.

This study aims to reduce the take-make-dispose culture, by creating circular strategies for existing curtain wall facades. Unitised facades have become more popular throughout the industry, and it was observed that those facades lose their function before their end-of-life stage is reached. Value and potential that is wasted in this case could be avoided. Specifically, the study examines the current strategies present in different industries and incorporates the technology present in the aluminium curtain wall facades to create strategies for reuse. The objective of this thesis is to research diminishing waste in the construction industry by developing strategies to reuse existing aluminium curtain facade elements circularly. To quantify the impact of these strategies the life cycle analysis is used to calculate the amount of carbon that could be avoided.

A mixed-method research was conducted, which involved integrating interviews with experts in the facade and material industry along with a review of literature, resulting in the development of a qualitative understanding. In addition, four reference studies were examined in order to further grasp the idea of circularity in this industry. Lastly, strategies are formed, which are applied to a relevant case.

It was found that facades do indeed have potential for reuse, as shown in reference studies, literature research and the application of the strategies. Despite this potential, facades play a crucial role in enclosing the indoor space, which leads to various specific characteristics that make both facade structures in their reuse rather complex. Facade systems are often uniquely designed which makes finding a match for reuse often a challenge. Eight general strategies have been defined to create incentives for reuse. A method for calculating the avoided carbon was created to quantify the potential of the strategies and provide an incentive for clients to include these circular strategies.

Overall, the research outcomes offer a framework that has the potential to reduce resource depletion and increase value retention in the facade industry. Crucial elements were identified and components that show potential for reuse were defined. Risks and uncertainties have been found, as well as the need for an incentive for producers, clients and policymakers. As mentioned above, finding a matching receiving project and designing with these materials still appears to be difficult. This research contributes to the incorporation of circular strategies in the design and construction of existing facade elements, creating a fitting extension to the 10R framework and the value hill. The case study, Citibank, is a typical project where, at the time of writing facade elements are becoming available. Strategies to reintegrate these panels into a new project are researched. The application of the circular strategies in an actual project illustrates the possibilities and benefits as well as the allocation of risks and challenges. Based on the study's findings, it is recommended to further experiment with these strategies, both on physical aspects as well as on financial and feasibility aspects.

Track: Building Engineering