VITIELLO, UMBERTO (2017) A Sustainable Framework for the Optimization of Retrofit Strategies of Existing Buildings. [Tesi di dottorato]


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Item Type: Tesi di dottorato
Lingua: English
Title: A Sustainable Framework for the Optimization of Retrofit Strategies of Existing Buildings
Date: 10 December 2017
Number of Pages: 265
Institution: Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II
Department: dep08
Dottorato: phd038
Ciclo di dottorato: 30
Coordinatore del Corso di dottorato:
Date: 10 December 2017
Number of Pages: 265
Uncontrolled Keywords: Building Information Modelling, sustainability, life-cycle, environmental impact, seismic retrofit, expected annual loss, strengthening optimization, energy retrofit.
Settori scientifico-disciplinari del MIUR: Area 08 - Ingegneria civile e Architettura > ICAR/09 - Tecnica delle costruzioni
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2018 00:49
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2019 08:04


The construction industry is one of the major causes of both the consumption of natural resources and environmental pollution. Buildings have a significant environmental impact during their life-cycle, consuming huge amounts of energy and natural assets and affecting the air and water quality in our cities. The life-cycle of a building consists of two phases: design and facility management (FM). Raw materials such as steel, concrete, iron, wood and brick are used in the first stage, while natural resources like water, natural gas and energy are utilized throughout the entire life-cycle. In addition, environmental effects include an increase in greenhouse gas emissions, global warming and the depletion of the ozone layer. Several negative effects on the environment are also the consequence of deconstruction activities due to the intensive use of natural assets and the generation of solid and liquid waste. As a consequence, all the stakeholders involved in the Architecture Engineering Construction (AEC) sector, such as architects, engineers, energy consultants, project managers, building users and local administrators, are working together to develop appropriate technologies. Indeed, the rising cost of energy, the overconsumption of natural resources, and all the environmental issues mentioned above have led to an increased demand for sustainable building structures with a low environmental impact, following eco-friendly principles. This means that the construction sector is in a period where there is a need for two important elements. The first is a boost in terms of eco-efficiency, which is considered to be an integration of several environmental and economic aspects aimed at reducing waste and the use of resources, as well as the ecological impact. The second is the development of innovative and digital methodologies that are able to ensure coordination between stakeholders, with the aim being to achieve the cultural and social-economic sustainability of a building. As a result, the role of sustainable design has assumed fundamental importance. The concept of sustainability associated with the construction industry provides an opportunity to create facilities with the same functionalities as those designed with a traditional approach, but with a low environmental impact and high energy efficiency. The concept of sustainable building needs to be implemented in all the phases of a building’s life-cycle, from design to construction (including the consumption of raw materials and natural resources), and from the usage phase to the deconstruction of the building (including the management of solid and liquid waste). A sustainable development model is based on three key concepts: good environmental management; social responsibility and cost-saving solutions. Consequently, it may be said that sustainability has three main components: environmental; economic; and social. Within this context, demands made on the construction industry are moving in the direction of a transformation which is both rapid and radical (from a digital point of view), with the purpose being to place the management of the information flow at the centre of this “revolution” in order to increase the effectiveness of decision-making and sustainable design. Over the last decade, there has been growing interest within the construction sector in using Building Information Models (BIMs), due to their numerous benefits and resource savings during the design, planning, construction and management stages of buildings. A Building Information Model is a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a facility and its related life-cycle information. The resulting model is a data rich, object-oriented, intelligent and parametric digital representation of a building, and serves as a shared repository of information for building owners and operators during its life-cycle. A BIM represents the shared resource of information that provides a reliable basis for decision-making from the design stage to deconstruction and throughout the building’s life-cycle. The BIM tool allows various types of information to be managed, such as the planning of resources, energy analyses, cost assessments and time schedules. This multi-disciplinary information can be synthesized within one model. A BIM system is a central scheme that involves different stakeholders at different phases of the life-cycle of a facility, enabling information in the BIM model to be inserted, extracted, updated or modified. This collaborative approach enables a focus on the design process of a building on environmental and economic issues, such as construction and maintenance costs and energy efficiency. Building Information Models are a way of producing sustainable models and conducting performance analyses throughout a building’s life-cycle. This is why BIM models are increasingly being used to support sustainable designs, construction, operations and the demolition of buildings. The BIM digital revolution will affect the entire construction industry, providing several benefits and generating buildings that operate more efficiently. It is important to note that the digital models produced also aim to mitigate risks (such as seismic risks), as well as increase efficiency and effectiveness. What is more, the “BIM-oriented” planning of buildings has extraordinary advantages: increased productivity, fewer errors, less downtime, lower costs, greater inter-operability and the maximum sharing of information. Refurbishment is carried out to improve the performance of a building and, sometimes, to meet the requirements of owners and building codes. These renovation measures include structural upgrades such as seismic and energy retrofits like improving electrical or plumbing systems or thermal insulation. These operations require a great deal of data about structural and non-structural components, as well as their materials and compositions, geometry and physical properties. Integration with BIM methodologies is fundamental to this phase of the life-cycle, because they are able to manage large amounts of data and improve the feasibility of the processes. By exploring the relationship between BIMs and sustainability in the construction industry, the aim of this thesis is to demonstrate how sustainable design principles that focus on structural retrofits and the renovation of existing buildings may be implemented with the support of BIM methodologies. The approach of this research moves from the consideration that the management of the structural design process has a significant impact on the management of the sustainability of an entire building. A weakness in the performance of a structural system may affect the functionalities of building components, and this may in turn produce a weakness in the functionality of the whole system. This research develops different applications of an integrated platform, where information converges from energy, economic and environmental elements. The final aim of this sustainable framework is to support researchers, designers and practitioners in the decision-making stage, thereby optimizing environmental aspects, structural retrofit strategies and energy retrofit solutions during the life-cycle of buildings that are prone to seismic risk. Chapter 1 of this thesis contains a brief introduction to Building Information Modelling. It describes the advantages of a BIM-oriented design and the maturity levels of the methodology, and also investigates the application of BIMs in the life-cycle of buildings. Chapter 2 sets out a procedure to assess the environmental impact of some seismic retrofit interventions on an existing reinforced concrete (RC) building. Once the structural requirements have been satisfied and the environmental effects of these retrofit solutions defined, the final aim is to identify the most environmentally sustainable retrofit strategy. The environmental impact of the structural retrofit options is assessed using a life-cycle assessment (LCA). In Chapter 3, a simplified method based on a semi-probabilistic methodology is developed to evaluate the economic performance of a building prone to seismic risk. The proposed approach aims to identify the most cost-effective strengthening strategies and levels for existing structures during their structural lifetime. To this end, the method identifies: the optimal strengthening level, computing the costs of strengthening the structure at different performance levels for each strategy; and the expected seismic loss during its lifetime. Chapter 4 develops the BIM-based approach to support the engineering analysis of RC structures and manage the large amount of data required for a detailed seismic analysis. In particular, a BIM is used in an economic seismic loss assessment procedure in order to improve the feasibility of the process and the accuracy of the analysis. The framework developed is able to assess the expected seismic and economic losses of an existing building and to optimize retrofit operations from an economic point of view. Chapter 5 introduces a sustainability assessment framework for the retrofit process of existing buildings based on the integration of energy and structural aspects. Multi-stage energy optimization is carried out by implementing a genetic algorithm and a smart research strategy. As a consequence, cost-optimal energy retrofit solutions are identified and their influence on the expected economic losses due to seismic damage is assessed throughout a building’s lifetime. Chapter 6 sets out the methodological framework, which enables us to address the integration of the seismic and energy retrofitting of existing buildings from an economic point of view. The overall outcome of this integration is handled in terms of the global expected cost, which includes the economic indicators associated with adopted energy measures and economic loss quantifications related to the structural performance of the retrofitted building.

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