Rethinking Adaptive Building Skins from a Life Cycle Assessment perspective
Adaptive building technologies have opened up a growing field of research aimed at ensuring indoor comfort while reducing energy consumption in buildings. By focusing on flexibility over short timeframes, these new technologies are, however, rarely designed for sustainability over their entire lifecycle. This paper aims to address an information gap between the research field of architectural Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and the state of the art of adaptive façades, by presenting an analysis of the main aspects in traditional and adaptive façades that are relevant to understanding whether parallels can be drawn between available LCA databases.
The literature is reviewed following an inductive method based on a qualitative data collection aimed at answering a list of research questions, and a deductive method starting from the descriptions of adaptive building envelopes. The findings highlight four main points: i) where and how adaptivity is integrated, ii) the design targets that are able to reduce the environmental impact, iii) the importance of a qualitative as well as a quantitative LCA of the technology, and iv) lists a number of knowledge gaps currently limiting the diffusion of LCA as a design and verification tool in Adaptive Building Skins.
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