Case 1: Super circular neighborhood, the Netherlands

The Netherlands

Case parameters

Type of construction: mock-up of a prefabricated facade
Typology: prototype
Construction systems:
Location: The Netherlands

The challenge we face

In the Dutch case, building upon state-of-the-art modular and plug-and-play (nZEB) retrofit technologies, a circular net-zero deep-renovation demonstrator will be completed. The demonstration project includes typical Dutch terraced housing owned by a social housing associations. The circular deep-renovation of the Dutch demonstrator focusses on refurbishing the envelope with prefabricated modules and installing a building services ‘engine’.


What we will do

The following innovations will be developed and demonstrated:

  • As a elementary step in the deep-renovation the setup of the project organization has been modified so that the supply chain is alligned with the technologies being applied (1). As a result the project will be conducted by co-makers who supply the core technologies of the deep-renovation without the involvement of a general contractor. This is possible when technologies and its interfaces have been standardized and modularized to a large extent.
  • At the subsystem or module level, composing the modules of the building envelope, followed a three-step strategy; 1) maximum re-use of materials from deconstructed building objects (e.g. cleaned masonry, existing window frames), 2) recycling of materials from deconstructed building objects (e.g. using existing glass panes and stones for the creation of glass wool and rock wool insulation), and 3) applying high-end biobased engineered materials (e.g. biobased door hinges).

The following key achievements can be reported:

  • Mock-up modular and circular 2D building envelope elements
  • Detailed design of most favourable deep-renovation scenario
  • Demonstration in real-life project

Based on the most fabourable deep-renovation scenario the following environmental impact can be reported:

  • 100% primary energy savings based on most favourabel deep-renovation scenario

For the modular and circular façade alone a reduction of 56% of the embodied energy and 49% embodied carbon relative to the baseline façade element.

The results we expect

Although not yet fully circular, the Dutch demonstrator showcases a substantial reduction of the environmental footprint of prefab building envelope elements as a result of re-design process implementing circular strategies such as re-duce; re-use waste materials; biomimicry and design for disassembly.

Although the carbon footprint of building envelope retrofits can be substantially reduced and material efficiency improved, 2D façade modules have still a substantial environmental impact. Future work should concentrate on rethinking and de-materializing the deep-renovation concepts shifting focus from energy neutral towards climate neutral.