Integration of lifecycle assessment into structural intervention scenarios for assessing environmental impacts of vulnerable buildings


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Keskin, Fatma Seyma ORCID: (2021). Integration of lifecycle assessment into structural intervention scenarios for assessing environmental impacts of vulnerable buildings. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Recent developments in the construction industry have led to a growing awareness about sustainable buildings. However, due to negligence in building construction, including inadequate building regulations and incorrect design, structural integrity remains a primary issue of the construction sector. Furthermore, an increasing number of disasters in recent years is another critical factor that has triggered a rise in the number of existing vulnerable buildings. Thus, building durability must become a priority factor required to ‘sustain’ buildings. However, current studies on structural strengthening mostly focus on only one aspect of building performance without referring to the interrelation between the multiplicities of design, construction, and maintenance deficiencies.

This research aims to examine the improvement of vulnerable buildings; not only in terms of structural performance but also in consideration of a wider set of sustainability challenges. Therefore, this study proposes an integrated and sustainable structural intervention method for vulnerable buildings. The method is based on the concept of “structural intervention”, which refers to structural retrofitting and reconstruction of buildings. Using this concept, sustainability metrics are expanded beyond environmental impacts throughout design and service life of buildings to also include a reduction in structure vulnerability and inefficient use of resources. The proposed method is based on scenarios that refer to the scale of damage inflicted on vulnerable buildings. The scenarios’ sustainable performance is evaluated by using Life Cycle Analysis, which includes life cycle inventory analysis and life cycle impact assessment. The LCA concept is adapted and reshaped to make it specifically tailored to vulnerable buildings by covering the entire life cycle of scenarios, also referred to herein as, “customised stages”. The method was applied to two case studies of vulnerable buildings with low and medium damage, each constructed according to different local and national building codes.

Results of the study suggest that the fulfilment of sustainability criteria in buildings can be significantly improved by implementing the sustainable structural intervention method. Findings indicate that avoiding new build construction by strengthening the structure of existing vulnerable buildings can decrease construction-related environmental burdens and overuse of resources. Further, it was found that although embodied environmental effects have a lesser impact than a building’s operational impacts, reducing them also help conserve natural resources. Additionally, the use of recyclable strengthening materials contributes to both the reduction of resource demand and environmental impacts. The service life also has a considerable impact on results when comparing the total and annual environmental impacts of intervention scenarios. Since the strengthening techniques are unique and the design options are limited, the environmental impacts should be evaluated on a project basis and the proposed method should be followed accordingly. The method can serve as a reference for the sustainable transformation of the vulnerable building stocks, and it can be further improved for regional building regulations.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Engineering & Physical Sciences
School or Department: School of Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering
Funders: Other
Other Funders: Ministry of National Education, Republic of Turkey
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General)
T Technology > TH Building construction


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