A multi-methodology and sustainability-supporting framework for implementation and assessment of a holistic building renovation: Implementation and assessment of a holistic sustainable building renovation


Aliakbar Kamari
Department of Engineering, Aarhus University


Building Renovation, Building Retrofitting, Sustainability, Sustainable Renovation, Methodology, Design Methodology, Multi-methodology, Problem Structuring, Soft Systems Methodology (SSM), Multi Criteria Decision Making (MCDM), Complexity, Holism, Decision Support Systems (DSS), System Architecture, Decisions Architecture, Domain Mapping Matrix (DMM), Tectonics, Tectonic Sustainable Building Design (TSBD)


Future building renovation concerns more holistic perspectives related to the sustainability seen in a wider range of objectives/criteria facilitated by the renovation scenarios. Renovation should be a means of improving and developing buildings to meet the needs and challenges of the future and of making homeowners and tenants less vulnerable due to rising energy costs in the future. There is a great potential for reducing energy consumption in existing buildings. However, that does not mean compromising on the quality and architectural values that make the buildings special. Therefore, existing buildings cannot simply be renovated, but must undergo a deep transformation to comply with wider range of objectives/criteria. That includes and addresses the “hard” objectives/criteria (quantitative/measurable criteria such as energy consumption or energy generation) and the “soft” objectives/criteria (qualitative/immeasurable criteria such as spatial quality) in parallel. These objectives both can be achieved, if holistic renovation scenarios are generated each time the buildings are renovated by focus on addressing both the mentioned objectives/criteria. In this framework, the major difference between a deep building renovation and an ordinary one is a commitment to a holistic approach in which objectives/criteria are targeted early in the design stages and subsequently are considered for their interdependence throughout sustainability perspectives.

A review of recent research has revealed that the present efforts on sustainable objectives fulfilment in renovation projects are not sufficient. It demonstrates compounding the typical challenges of a sustainable retrofitting from theory to implement stages is lack of an appropriate design methodology. It should take into account retrofitting projects initially in order to interact with the different stakeholders and then to embark on the sustainability objectives/criteria in its full sense. It should assist to identify, manage, and evaluate the holistic objectives among various alternative retrofitting solutions during the early design stages. In this perspective, the present thesis has been developed according to the following objectives:

a)     It primarily considers building renovation as a complex messy/wicked problem. As such, it gives details on how combinations of methods that are parts of SSM (Soft Systems Methodologies) and MCDM (Multi Criteria Decision Making Methods) are able to cope with its complexity. It consequently develops a methodology, which is entitled Holistic Multi-methodology for Building Renovation – HMSR. The HMSR serve as a means to structure retrofitting problems in accordance with the sustainability in its full sense to support the decision-making and help to develop most appropriate retrofitting scenarios. 

b)     It addresses a new simplified holistic sustainability decision-making support framework, which applies to the structures of the built environment for building renovation projects. The developed framework can be applied during different project stages and to assist in the consideration of the sustainability issues through support of decision-making and communication with relevant stakeholders. It should be noted that, the framework can be considered not only as an abstract model but a bound method of planning and design as well as evaluating and comparing retrofitting projects.

c)     It investigates development of a Decision Support System - DSS for generating renovation scenarios with the aims to represent and navigate across existing dependencies. As such, the renovation sustainability objectives/criteria and the entire list of renovation approaches are discovered, explored and structured through development of a Domain Mapping Matrix - DMM. A major advantage of the DMM is in its compactness and ability to provide a systematic mapping among the items (represented in rows and columns) that is clear and easy to read regardless of size. It considers and demonstrates what the values are (sustainability objectives/criteria), how they can be created (application of renovation approaches), and where the value can be added by generation of the integrated renovation scenarios (use of the DMM) in renovation context.

d)     It expands a conceptual framework under the topic of Tectonic Sustainable Building Design (TSBD). The TSBD seeks for interaction between architecture, sustainability objectives and an equipped design process. It is therefore attached to the tectonics (refers to architectural theory), the sustainability (refers to the holistic objectives) and a holistic multi-methodology - HMSR (refers to the integrated design methodology). By focusing on TSBD thinking in the field of building renovation, one forms a strategy of establishing a link between the intentions embedded in the architectural transformation and the way these are perceived by the user/owner of the building. Once this is established, the framework is intended to serve as a platform for refining and improving the contemporary building industry seen in the light of sustainability, by supporting the decision-making in the development of holistic renovation scenarios.

The research strategy employed in this thesis presents characteristics of two research types, namely the qualitative research approach, and the inter- or transdisciplinary research throughout mode 2. It therefore calls for an inductive research approach and involves an interpretive approach and comparative analysis to its subject matter. In order to enrich and validate the elements and principles of the above objectives, the thesis analyses 10 European renovation research projects, the Danish SIGMA database (by Molio[1]), as well as a case study linking to an ongoing renovation research project which is entitled RE-VALUE[2]. The case study is Section 3 of Skovgårdsparken[3] located in Brabrand, Denmark. It is a social housing complex (including nine blocks), and has been renovated by Brabrand Housing Association.

The future of the research in this thesis concerns expanding of the TSBD framework for Building Design in general. That means move from building renovation to design of new buildings.

[1] https://molio.dk/molio-prisdata/prisdata-footer/brug-molio-prisdata/

[2] http://www.revalue.dk

[3] https://www.bbbo.dk/projekter/skovgaardsparken/



25 april 2018

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