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Circular façade renovation

On behalf of Flanders Circular, we are leading this study on the scalability of circular building envelope renovation.
  • Partners: Ghent University, General Construction Maes, De Witte Aluminiumconstructies

  • Client: OVAM – Vlaanderen Circulair

  • Timing: 2019-2022

  • Status: Executed

Building managers with large patrimony often have residential buildings with similar characteristics. They usually have a long-term vision of renovating their patrimony, spread over decades. Acceleration of the renovation rate is pressing. There is often insufficient budget to substantially renovate all buildings. A temporary improvement of the building envelope will increase comfort until the major renovation.

To avoid waste, that temporary improvement should be circular.

By looking at shared characteristics between buildings on a larger scale, the circularity of a façade renovation system can succeed. Indeed, in contemporary, building-specific systems, the likelihood of reuse decreases.

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This research team is developing a sustainable modular reusable façade system for renovation. It will allow existing buildings to be renovated quickly in a circular way. Due to these properties, the use is scalable and a large proportion of these residential buildings can be renovated in the short term. The system takes into account the option of reusing the existing external joinery, if relevant.

After an examination of all possible façade renovation systems and façade requirements, we arrive at a two-layer new façade.

  • The first layer flattens any sloping facade and eliminates local unevenness in the facade surface. Technical pipes can run in here if necessary.
  • The second layer consists of standardised timber-frame panels in 9 sizes that wrap the façade surface as much as possible. When choosing the materials and dimensions of the panels, we take the environmental impact into account.

The conclusion: a reusable system provides much higher material usage.

Verticaal detail
  • The panels can be reused several times as elements, but that still does not outweigh a non-reusable ETICS system in terms of environmental impact. The traditional ventilated façade, which allows reuse at material level, also scores well in terms of environmental impact and circularity.
  • However, our solution is applicable in high-rise buildings and in the case of a non-quality internal cavity wall as infill brickwork. But we had to abandon the original goal of finding a system for all buildings. Based on a building's boundary conditions, the design team has to choose a suitable solution.

Meet our research team

From Team Sustainability, Energy & Comfort (1)

Jona 569 A6702 Large

ir. arch. Jona Van Steenkiste

Energy and sustainability advisor
EPB reporter
E-mail |

From Team Knowledge Innovation & Technology (1)

Raf 569 A3809 Gemiddeld

arch. Raf De Preter

Expert construction details
Façade advisor
E-mail |

Find out more about our circular activities

TAGS: Circular building