Operational performance and life cycle assessment of double skin façades for office refurbishments in the UK

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

Improvements to façades are amongst the most effective strategies to reduce energy consumption and to mitigate CO2 emissions of existing buildings. In this respect, double skin façades (DSFs) are able to mitigate energy consumption and GHG emissions while offering indoor thermal comfort. Operational performance of DSFs in new buildings is fairly well studied, while DSFs’ use in refurbishment and life cycle energy, carbon, and environmental impacts are much less so. This thesis has quantitatively addressed such a knowledge gap through a parametric comparative analysis of DSFs against up-to-standard single skin alternatives, both as refurbishment solutions, with sensitivity and uncertainty analyses being conducted where applicable. In total, 2,304 different cases have been modelled, assessed and comparatively analysed.
A clear distinction has been considered between the energy analysis of the DSF in the operational phase, and the impacts in pre-occupancy phases, and end-of-life stages. All life cycle stages have then been combined with the aim of assessing DSFs’ whole-life energy, whole-life carbon, and environmental and ecological impacts.
Findings show that most of the DSF configurations analysed do actually perform better than their single skin counterparts from a whole-life energy and carbon perspective, thereby representing viable and effective solutions for UK low-carbon office refurbishments. However, materials and assemblies used for the DSF bear additional ecological and environmental impacts that are not insignificant and should therefore also be considered if a holistic view of environmental sustainability is to be undertaken. Not only does this research represent the first of its kind, i.e. a parametric life cycle assessment (LCA) of DSFs, but it also informs a more energy-efficient and impacts-driven design approach to ensure that the environmental burdens are not just shifted from one impact category to another. Additionally, the methodology developed for this research represents a novel means for comparative LCAs of building assemblies and components. As such, it can be adopted and adapted to serve as a methodological frame of reference in built environment studies.
Date of Award14 Jan 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton
SupervisorPoorang Piroozfar (Supervisor), Ryan Southall (Supervisor) & Philip Ashton (Supervisor)

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