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Energy and Buildings 128 (2016) 394–404

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Energy and Buildings

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Life-time performance of post-disaster temporary housing:

A case study in Nanjing
Yiming Song a,b,∗ , Nalanie Mithraratne b , Hong Zhang a
School of Architecture, Southeast University, Nanjing 210096, China
Department of Architecture, School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117566, Singapore

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Temporary housing is crucial to disaster recovery, due to the demand for large numbers within a short
Received 12 May 2016 period. The short life cycle and unique functional requirements associated with temporary housing
Received in revised form 6 July 2016 could lead to significant environmental impacts. However these have not been adequately investigated.
Accepted 7 July 2016
This paper focuses on the life cycle performance of light-framed temporary housing in China with local
Available online 12 July 2016
technologies, taking Chinese electricity mix of each process and domestic transportation distances into
consideration. The research selects four popular temporary housing in China, calculates the material
requirements and compares the life cycle impact of different wall assemblies based on Future House built
Rapidly deployable structures
Disaster shelters
in Nanjing. While energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are used as surrogate indicators of
Life cycle performance environmental impact, total life-time impact is established by including construction energy, operating
Greenhouse gas emissions energy, maintenance energy and end-of-life energy and corresponding greenhouse gas emissions. It was
CO2 emissions found that the life cycle energy of post-disaster temporary housing is much higher in comparison to low
Energy intensity energy buildings with construction energy contributing 65% to life cycle energy due to unique require-
ments. The results also show that life cycle energy of post-disaster shelters could be reduced by using
recycled materials, lighter structural materials and light wall cladding materials.
© 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Background is therefore vital not only for personal safety, protection from
natural elements, and resistance to disease and ill health, but also
A variety of natural disasters take place all over the world every for people’s psychological integrity. These conflicting considera-
year, making many homeless and bringing significant impacts in tions typically prolong post-disaster recovery times, sometimes
the construction sector. In China, the great interest in post-disaster by more than two years. The prolonged recovery time further
temporary housing originated in Wenchuan Earthquake and its increases the difficulty of rebuilding post-disaster lives. Through
aftershocks in 2008, which destroyed a large number of buildings, these temporary housing, the external environmental stresses of
and left millions of people homeless. It was estimated that the eco- the refugees can be minimized [1].
nomic loss run higher than US$75 billion, making the earthquake There seems to be confusion on post-disaster accommoda-
one of the costliest natural disasters in Chinese history (http:// tion types, basic functions expected and the terminology used.
en.wikipedia.org). The severe damage caused by the earthquake Bashawri et al., suggests that post-disaster shelters include plas-
brought massive increase in the number of disaster shelters as res- tic sheets, tents, prefabricated housing, and public community
idential buildings accounted for 27.4% of the total loss (http://zh. buildings such as leisure centers, university halls of residence,
wikipedia.org). places of worship, sports venues and private rentals while oth-
Disasters not only cause environmental destruction but also ers argue for distinction between accommodation provided at
severe social issues. The need to reconstruct their homes and lives four different stages after a disaster [2–4]. Quarantelli identified
could lead to confusion and desperation causing extreme psy- shelters (emergency shelters and temporary shelters) as accom-
chological stress for those affected. Post disaster accommodation modation provided in the first two stages, i.e., immediately after
a disaster until a couple of weeks, during which time all daily
activities of occupants, such as work and schooling, are sus-
∗ Corresponding author at: School of Architecture, Southeast University, Nanjing pended, and housing (temporary housing and permanent housing)
210096, China. as accommodation provided in the latter stages [5]. As such, tem-
E-mail address: yiming.song@foxmail.com (Y. Song). porary housing should be designed not only to accommodate daily

0378-7788/© 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Y. Song et al. / Energy and Buildings 128 (2016) 394–404 395

activities of the occupants but also to last from 6 months to which took about 7 h in this case. Future House has been dis-
3 years. assembled, transported and assembled for several times since it
Many temporary housing widely used in the market are was first constructed, realizing the possibility to make a quick
designed and planned using lightweight structures so that they turnover.
can be easily erected, dismantled and stored for future use, avoid- The study presented in this paper focuses on alternative wall
ing great energy consumption during prolonged recovery time and assemblies, retaining the structure, plan and materials (roof, floor,
reducing demolition energy consumption by recycling and reusing. windows and doors) constant. The plan of the building integrat-
Meanwhile, compared with simple tents, this kind of temporary ing two structural units of 6000 mm × 2100 mm × 3000 mm and
housing could provide a more secure, stable and convenient living 6000 mm × 2900 mm × 3000 mm, with a 20-mm-wide space in
environment for people, who cannot return to their own houses between is shown in Fig. 1. The composite roof construction with
immediately after a disaster, in order to meet the needs of daily interdigitated U-shaped stainless steel plate outer layer ensures
life. waterproofing while double timber board encased rock wool insu-
However, there are still some deficiencies in the existing tem- lation inner layer provides improved thermal performance (see
porary housing solutions due to the lack of mature prototype and Fig. 1). The floor construction uses gypsum board as the outer layer
limited design cycle for post-disaster temporary housing. Chen and the same inner layer assembly of roof as the inner layer (see
et al. indicated that some temporary housing solutions provide poor Fig. 1).
sound insulation and heat dissipation performance as a result of The four different wall assemblies used are as follows:
inappropriate choice of partition wall material, inadequate wall
thickness, leading to the increase of operating energy [1]. And (1) Base assembly:
another study evaluating 5,135 temporary housing units con- This is the most widely used wall assembly for temporary
structed to accommodate victims of the 1999 Chi-Chi earthquake in shelters in China, which originated from the shelters in Japan
Taiwan, found that poor ventilation also contribute the poor indoor and gained popularity in China since 1980s. This kind of shelter
environment and higher operating energy [6]. with low cost, rapid construction and ability to be disassembled
It can be seen that the studies on temporary housing at is commonly used as temporary shelters on construction sites
present have paid more attention to the physical aspects such or post-disaster area. However, being a system mass-produced
as material properties and building configuration, which directly in a factory at a low cost, it usually provides poor comfort con-
impact on the users’ living quality. Nevertheless, as operation ditions and no aesthetic appeal during its short life cycle. The
is only a part of the whole life cycle, the research attempts to wall assembly in this research, which is used most commonly
take construction, maintenance and recycling into consideration in temporary shelters in China, consists of two steel sheets
and put forward some suggestions to the design of temporary with polyurethane foam embedded between them (Fig. 2: Base
housing. assembly).
This paper focuses on the environmental performance of (2) Proposal 1:
temporary housing and designing for reuse. It investigates the envi- This design is based on the wall assembly of the multi-
ronmental performance in terms of energy and greenhouse gas function shelter developed and built by SEU in 2012 (Fig. 2:
emissions, of four wall assemblies using light-framed construc- Proposal 1). The inner and outermost layers use aluminum
tions, either widely used in China or developed by research teams sheet, with rubber strips in between to maintain airtightness,
in universities. The temporary house design used here is the Future fixed to the structure using stainless steel components. The
House, which was designed and built in 2013, by research team of gap between the innermost and outermost aluminum sheets is
Southeast University, China [7]. filled with polyurethane foam thermal insulation and a 28 mm
thick air gap. The polyurethane foam is divided into two parts
for the convenience of installation and fixation. The first part is
2. Housing assemblies of 80 mm, as thick as the frame, and it is cut into suitable shape
in order to avoid conflict with the structural profiles. The other
Future House is a residential building with supporting facili- part is rectangular and has a thickness of 120 mm.
ties, such as kitchen and bathroom modules, designed as a kit-set (3) Proposal 2:
adopting the modular structure and standard components so it can This is the wall assembly of Future House (Fig. 2: Proposal 2).
be assembled easily to reduce the construction period and invest- The outermost layer is similar in construction to that of Proposal
ment. It is a lightweight construction that could be removed and 1, with polyurethane foam filling inside. And the inner layer is
transported with ease. In addition, the de-constructable structure made up of two timber boards with rock wool insulation inside
making the building partly or completely reusable could reduce the to improve its thermal properties. The 80 mm × 30 mm timber
demolition energy, while the composite envelope systems achieve keels between the timber boards are embedded in the rock wool
higher sound and thermal performance and energy-efficiency and insulation, making the inner layer more stable. There is also an
consume less operating energy. air gap of 80 mm as in Proposal 1, the same thickness as the
Future House consists of two structural units, 6 m × 3 m and structural profiles, between the inner layer and the outer layer,
6 m × 2 m, providing about 30 m2 indoor space and 15 m2 outdoor in order to improve its thermal insulation properties.
platform. The building is equipped with solar photovoltaic and (4) Proposal 3:
thermal systems, which can satisfy its daily operating needs, and This design uses the wall assembly of Newbud Building Sys-
a small-size kitchen module and an integrated bathroom module. tem (Fig. 2: Proposal 3), researched by Professor Zhu Jingxiang
Movable partitions fixed by cross rails on the ceiling of the building, from Chinese University of Hong Kong [8]. This proposal uses
separate the interior space to meet the needs of different func- timber boards in the outermost layer, fixed to the structure
tional spaces such as dining room, bedroom, etc. The construction using stainless steel components. There is a 100 mm air gap
of Future House took only 16 days from preparation of materials and a gypsum board vapor barrier between the inner layer and
to installation of related equipment. The Future House is a typ- the outer layer to regulate the micro-environment and provide
ical case of industrialized construction method—initially built in a stable indoor climate. The inner layer is a composite panel
the factory, forming two main modules and two roof modules, composed of timber framework and boards on both sides with
transported to the construction site by trucks for final assembly, EPS insulation board in the middle. As a result, the envelope
396 Y. Song et al. / Energy and Buildings 128 (2016) 394–404

Fig. 1. Plan, roof and floor construction of Future House.

construction could ensure both thermal performance and struc- transport to assembly site. Then, construction resource require-
tural stability at the same time. ments for Future House design were calculated using ecoinvent
(version 2.2) database. The selected indicators are global warm-
3. Methodology ing potential (kg CO2 eq) and cumulative energy demand (MJ). The
production processors and steps are different for different build-
As a first step, construction materials necessary to construct ing components even they are made up of the same material. For
the Future House building (see Fig. 1) with these four wall assem- example, aluminum sheet may be subjected to sawing, scalping,
blies while retaining the structure, roof, floor doors and windows hot rolling, cold rolling, solution heat treatment, powder coating,
constant, were calculated separately; wall assemblies and constant finishing and packaging, while aluminum profile processing steps
parts. The materials used by the constant building components and can be sawing, scalping, preheating, extrusion, stretching, sawing,
wall assemblies are both shown in Table 4. ageing and packaging. In addition, the material wastage during pro-
duction also varies depending on component forms. For example,
3.1. Construction energy the amounts of primary aluminum required to produce 1 kg alu-
minum sheets and 1 kg aluminum profiles are different, due to
Construction energy is the total energy consumption during different losses during rolling and extrusion processes. Therefore,
the construction phase, including each building product’s con- the data should be extracted and calculated accurately according
sumption of raw materials, primary and secondary processing, and to both material and the form.
Y. Song et al. / Energy and Buildings 128 (2016) 394–404 397

Fig. 2. Four wall assemblies.

The source data used, i.e., ecoinvent data, is based on building 3.2. Operating energy
product manufacturing processes in the European countries (e.g.,
Switzerland, etc.). Considering that building product manufacture Energy Plus (Version 8.1), developed by the National Renew-
is similar worldwide, albeit with varying efficiency, differences in able Energy Laboratory [9], was used to establish the building’s
the amount of raw materials, processing methods and equipment energy consumption during its operating stage with alternative
among different countries are negligible. However, the fuel mix for wall assemblies, assuming that the building is located in Nanjing,
electricity and electricity generation methods, vary from one coun- Jiangsu Province, China, (the same location as Future House). The
try to the other and this could have implications on the energy and simulation is based on the weather statistics provided by Energy
emissions of end products. Therefore, the original electricity mix Plus and hypothetical mode for HVAC operating, along with phys-
of each process involved in manufacture of building products has ical performance parameters of different materials as defined in
been replaced with the corresponding Chinese value. The construc- “Thermal design code for civil building”, as shown in Table 1 [10].
tion energy and GHG emissions of the alternatives thus calculated It was assumed that two people occupied the disaster shel-
are shown in Table 5. Building materials/products are assumed to ter and that there are different schedules based on weekdays
be manufactured in the same region where the final building is and holidays. As it is customary for Chinese to work from
constructed and as such transport has been disregarded. 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., the weekdays were divided to three periods:

Table 1
Physical performance parameters of different materials based on “Thermal design code for civil building”.

F01 F02 F03 F04 F05 F06 F07

Steel Aluminum Timber Timber Timber Gypsum Gypsum
6 mm 10 mm 20 mm 8 mm 50 mm

Thickness m 0.005 0.002 0.006 0.01 0.02 0.008 0.05

Conductivity W/(m K) 58.2 203 0.17 0.17 0.17 0.33 0.33
Density kg/m3 7850 2700 600 600 600 1050 1050
Specific heat KJ/(kg K) 0.48 0.92 2.51 2.51 2.51 1.05 1.05

I01 I02 I03 I04 I05

Polyurethane Polyurethane Polyurethane Rock Polystyrene
26 mm 80 mm 120 mm Wool

Thickness m 0.026 0.08 0.12 0.08 0.04

Conductivity W/(m K) 0.033 0.033 0.033 0.045 0.042
Density kg/m3 30 30 30 100 30
Specific heat KJ/(kg K) 1.38 1.38 1.38 1.22 1.38

A01 A02 A03 A04

Wall Wall Wall Ceiling
Air gap Air gap Air gap Air gap

Thickness m >0.06 0.03 0.02 0.08

Thermal resistance (m2 K)/W 0.15 0.14 0.14 0.18
398 Y. Song et al. / Energy and Buildings 128 (2016) 394–404

Table 2
Maintenance cycles of building materials.

Building component Material Replace cycle (year) Repaint cycle (year)

Structure Aluminum frame 100 –

Steel fastener 100 –
Roof Steel sheets, battens 40 10
Insulation 40 –
Wooden boards, keels 30 8
Floor Plaster boards 100 –
Insulation 40 –
Wooden boards, keels 30 8
Doors and windows Aluminum window frame 60 –
Glazing 60 –
Walls Steel sheets 40 10
Aluminum sheets 40 10
Wooden boards, keels 30 8
Plaster boards 100 –
Insulation 40 –

00:00–09:00, 09:00–17:00 and 17:00–24:00. During the period established using published data and are summarized in Table 2
from 00:00 to 09:00 and 17:00 to 24:00, the HVAC system starts [14–17]. It can be seen that, service life of each material and
heating when the temperature is below 20 ◦ C and cooling over component is longer than the temporary building life (15 years)
25 ◦ C, and the electric engine was set to full load to ensure effi- considered here for post disaster accommodation. The published
cient operation of HVAC system. However, during work time from estimates are for buildings lasting 60 years or more and as such
09:00 to 17:00, the heating setpoint is 10 ◦ C and cooling setpoint is are based on the assumption that once constructed the building
35 ◦ C and the electric engine was set to half load to operate at low will remain intact for the duration. However, in this case Future
intensity of HVAC system. The electric engine was set to full load House is likely to be deconstructed-reconstructed five times over
and operated 24 h to maintain the indoor temperature between the 15-year period, leading to some material damage. However,
20 ◦ C and 25 ◦ C over the weekends and during Chinese holidays. The it was assumed that, materials would not be replaced during the
special public holidays during the run period are based on Chinese life of the building, and could be collected and re-used after the
holidays in 2014. building is deconstructed instead.
The simulation generated by Energy Plus shows the energy used Nonetheless, periodic maintenance of related materials to guar-
for heating and cooling. Assuming that both heating and cool- antee normal use in their life cycle is inevitable. Roof, wall panels
ing energy are entirely provided by electricity, the total electrical and flooring of permanent buildings usually need to be repainted
energy was calculated including network losses, which are on with a longer cycle as shown in Table 2. Since Future House is a tem-
average 6.53% in China [11]. The carbon emissions produced by porary building, the research assumed that repainting is done after
electricity are based on the Chinese value in ecoinvent database. each installation at 3-year intervals. The maintenance energy use
The results of operating energy and GHG emissions simulation for wall assemblies and constant components are shown in Table 7
are shown in Table 6. respectively. These were estimated based on ecoinvent data and the
same calculating method as construction energy.

3.3. Maintenance energy

3.4. Energy used at the end-of-life
The useful life of a building depends on its function and struc-
ture in addition to market forces. “Urban and rural planning law”, The energy used at the end-of-life depend on two parameters;
defines a temporary building as the constructions and facilities method of disposal/recycling of demolition waste, and mode and
with simple structures, which should be removed within the pre- distances of waste transport. Although the recycling technology has
scribed period, generally no more than two years [12]. However, improved over the years, the building materials recycling rate is
“Unified standard for reliability design of building structures” indi- relatively low due to extensive demolition activities in China at
cated that the durable life span of temporary building is 15 years present, generating large amounts of waste materials difficult to
if properly maintained [13]. The life span of Future House build- be either recycled or reused. The need for landfill disposal of waste
ing is assumed to be 15 years, with 100% recyclability of all the has caused many environmental problems and greatly increases
materials. Considering that the lifetime of temporary housing for energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions associated with
post-disaster accommodation is roughly three years, this implies buildings.
that the structure undergoes five deconstruction-reconstruction The lightweight structure of the building in this research has
cycles during its lifetime [4]. been designed so it can be easily disassembled, and therefore, it is
In general, most building materials have a shorter life compared assumed that all components of the building are reused.
with the buildings. As such, timely maintenance and replacement Existing studies vary in terms of the classification of recy-
of materials or components with a shorter service life are needed, cle processes as a result of different principles and perspectives
in order to ensure that the building is operated optimally during involved. For instance, Gao et al. divided the recycling process
its use phase. Conversely, if the useful life of a building is shorter, into product recycle, material recycle and feedstock recycle based
the materials and components that have a residual life should be on whether the material is manufactured or not [18]; Chini and
collected for reusing or recycling after the building is demolished. Bruening defined downcycling, recycling and upcycling based on
At present, there are no guidelines on the replacement intervals increase or decrease of properties after the materials are collected
of building materials and components used in China, although and manufactured, while Calkins showed that downcycling is suit-
some overseas research has published service life estimates. The able for most materials as properties always decrease [19,20].
useful life estimates for the materials and components used in McDonough and Braungart in “cradle-to-cradle” concept classified
the Future House to maintain an average living standard were recycle methods into biological cycle and technical cycle according
Y. Song et al. / Energy and Buildings 128 (2016) 394–404 399

Table 3
Recycling methods of building materials.

Type Material Recycled material Recycled product Method Distance (km) Source

Steel Steel sheet Raw steel Steel sheet Recycle 68.6 Gao et al. (2000)
Steel product Raw steel Steel product Recycle 68.6 Gao et al. (2000)
Aluminum Aluminum profile – Aluminum profile Reuse 0
Aluminum sheet Raw aluminum Aluminum sheet Recycle 0 Gao et al. (2000)
Window frame Recycled ground metal Aluminum sash Recycle 0 Gao et al. (2000)
Wood Timber board Single sheet Glued laminated wood Recycle 24.8 Gao et al. (2000)
Timber keel Wood chip Timber board Recycle 24.8 Gao et al. (2000)
Plaster Plaster board Recycled plaster Plaster board Recycle 50.9 Gao et al. (2000)
Glass Glazing Glass Glass bottle Downcycle 33.5 Vefago (2012)
Rubber – – – Landfill 38.7
Insulation Polyurethane foam Plastic particles Polyurethane foam Recycle 57.6 Zia et al. (2007)
Rock wool Substitute for coarse and – Downcycle 50.9 Cheng et al. (2011)
fine aggregates
Polystyrene foam Plastic particles Polystyrene foam Recycle 50.9 Ecoinvent

Table 4 In this study, all materials and components are assumed to be

Material requirements of Future House.
sorted in good condition after the shelter is deconstructed, and
Component Material Qty Unit the recycling methods are summarized in Table 3. The recycling
Constant components processes are based on the sources listed in the table, while the
Structure Aluminum (Profile) 1133.28 kg distances are calculated according to the situation in Nanjing. The
Stainless steel 22.40 kg waste management process data are based on ecoinvent database,
Windows and doors Window frame (Aluminum) 0.19 m3 while transport distances are calculated using Google Maps based
Glass (8 mm) 12.42 m2
on the most popular waste management facilities in proximity to
Roof and floor Timber (Board) 1.14 m3
Timber (Keel) 0.42 m3 the site in Nanjing identified from a web search. The demolition
Stainless steel 1978.06 kg energy for both constant and variable sections was also calculated
Rock wool 4.12 m3 separately, based on the weight of different materials and ecoinvent
Gypsum board (50 mm) 28.21 m2
data for processes involved.
Wall assemblies The results for end-of-life energy and GHG emissions are shown
Base assembly Light steel 3382.96 kg in Table 8.
Polyurethane 3.16 m3
Proposal 1 Aluminum 657.35 kg
Polyurethane 7.52 m3 4. Results
Stainless steel 72.63 kg
Rubber 0.02 m3
Proposal 2 Aluminum 363.24 kg
4.1. Material requirements
Polyurethane 1.05 m3
Rock wool 2.65 m3 Table 4 shows the material requirements for both constant com-
Stainless steel 262.58 kg ponents and four wall assemblies proposed for the Future House
Rubber 0.03 m3
Timber (Board) 0.76 m3
Timber (Keel) 0.31 m3 It can be seen that the quantity of metals in the building
Proposal 3 Timber (Board) 1.33 m3 structures, which include aluminum profiles and stainless steel
Timber (Keel) 0.19 m3 components is much higher than that in wall assemblies. This table
Stainless steel 262.58 kg
also indicates that the base assembly used high quantity of light
Rubber 0.03 m3
Gypsum (8 mm) 36.41 m2
steel in the walls, while Proposal 1 and Proposal 2 use less alu-
EPS 1.49 m3 minum as the surface of walls, and Proposal 3 predominantly use
timber instead metals.

to different regulating base, while Vefago and Avellaneda by tak- 4.2. Construction energy
ing recycling ways, properties and applications into consideration
defined recycled, infracycled, reused or infraused materials [21,22]. Table 5 shows the construction energy and greenhouse gas
At present, landfill and incineration are the most popular ways of emissions of four proposals. The data indicates that the construc-
dealing with building materials that cannot be recycled. tion energy of base assembly is over twice that of Proposal 1, and

Table 5
Construction energy and GHG emissions of alternative proposals.

Wall assemblies Base assembly Proposal 1 Proposal 2 Proposal 3

Construction energy (GJ) 467.46 234.63 177.02 106.18

Non-renewable 435.31 207.64 130.63 61.90
Renewable 32.15 26.99 46.39 44.28
GHG (t CO2 eq) 30.18 13.60 9.34 3.97

Constant components Structure Roof&Floor Window&Door Total

Construction energy (GJ) 249.77 399.74 77.71 727.22

Non-renewable 208.12 313.71 66.76 588.59
Renewable 41.65 86.03 10.95 138.63
GHG (t CO2 eq) 16.48 22.35 4.88 43.71
400 Y. Song et al. / Energy and Buildings 128 (2016) 394–404

Table 6
Operating energy and GHG emissions of alternative proposals.

Base assembly Proposal 1 Proposal 2 Proposal 3

Operating energy (GJ) 358.50 349.20 335.55 376.50

Annual 23.90 23.28 22.37 25.10
Life span 15 15 15 15
GHG (t CO2 eq) 125.5 122.25 117.47 131.81

Table 7
Maintenance energy and GHG emissions of alternative proposals.

Wall assemblies Base assembly Proposal 1 Proposal 2 Proposal 3

Maintenance energy (GJ) 42.70 36.10 25.10 12.20

Non-renewable 41.60 35.10 24.45 11.90
Renewable 1.10 1.00 0.65 0.30
GHG (t CO2 eq) 2.70 2.45 1.65 0.75

Constant components Structure Roof&Floor Window&Door Total

Maintenance energy (GJ) 0.00 52.00 0.00 52.00

Non-renewable 0.00 50.70 0.00 50.70
Renewable 0.00 1.30 0.00 1.30
GHG (t CO2 eq) 0.00 3.30 0.00 3.30

the energy consumption of Proposal 3 is the least due to the use of steel maintenance, and the maintenance energy of Proposal 3 is
timber instead of light steel and aluminum. Compared to construc- least due to use of timber instead of metals. The higher mainte-
tion energy of wall assemblies, the constant components consumed nance energy of metals is mainly caused by the powder coating
much more, nearly 6.85 times as the wall assembly of Proposal 3. process during repainting metals, which costs about 66.7 MJ/m2 for
The sequence of carbon emissions is the same with energy con- aluminum sheets while it is even higher for steel sheets, reaching
sumption: Base assembly ranks the first place, the data decreased 85.3 MJ/m2 . Furthermore, only roof and floor need to be repainted
gradually from Proposal 1 to Proposal 3, while the result of constant among the constant components, and the energy requirement is
components is higher than all the four wall assemblies. However, even more than that of walls in base assembly due to the large
the differences among the results are much larger. For example, amount of steel used in the roof. Besides, the carbon emissions of
the carbon emissions of Proposal 3 only accounts for 13% of base both four assemblies and constant components are proportional to
assembly and 9% of constant components. respective maintenance energy.

4.3. Operating energy 4.5. End-of-life energy

Table 6 shows the operating energy and GHG emissions of Table 8 shows the end-of-life energy used for alternative propo-
alternative proposals. It reveals that the difference between the sals. Transportation of materials is a major contributor, which vary
annual operating energy and carbon emissions of four proposals depending on modes, weight of materials and transport distance.
is not as much as the difference in construction energy. The oper- As can be seen from Table 8, the base assembly needs more end-
ating energy is related to the physical performance of alternative of-life energy and generates more carbon emissions than all the
wall assemblies, depending on not only the physical parameters other proposals, and the results also indicate that building struc-
of materials, but also the composition of walls. The results indi- ture accounts for nearly 50% of both end-of-life energy and carbon
cate that the four wall assemblies considered are of similar thermal emissions of constant components.
4.6. Life cycle impact
4.4. Maintenance energy
Life cycle energy (GJ) and total greenhouse gas emissions
The maintenance energy, shown in Table 7, is calculated based (t CO2 eq) are used as surrogate indicators of environmental impact
on the 3-year repaint cycle of materials. It can be seen that the in this paper. The life cycle energy, which includes construc-
base assembly requires more energy to repaint the walls than the tion energy, operating energy, maintenance energy and end-of-life
other proposals as a result of the higher energy consumption of energy, is shown in Table 9. The result shows that the energy cost

Table 8
End-of-life energy and GHG emissions of alternative proposals.

Wall assemblies Base assembly Proposal 1 Proposal 2 Proposal 3

End-of-life energy (GJ) 0.85 1.77 1.32 0.57

Non-renewable 0.84 1.73 1.29 0.56
Renewable 0.01 0.04 0.03 0.01
GHG (t CO2 eq) 0.05 0.11 0.09 0.04

Constant components Structure Roof&Floor Window&Door Total

End-of-life energy (GJ) 2.62 1.52 1.22 5.36

Non-renewable 2.57 1.49 1.20 5.26
Renewable 0.05 0.03 0.02 0.10
GHG (t CO2 eq) 0.15 0.09 0.07 0.31
Y. Song et al. / Energy and Buildings 128 (2016) 394–404 401

Table 9
Life cycle energy and GHG emissions of alternative proposals.

Base assembly Proposal 1 Proposal 2 Proposal 3

Construction energy (GJ) 1194.68 961.85 904.24 833.40

Operating energy (GJ) 358.50 349.20 335.55 376.50
Maintenance energy (GJ) 94.70 88.10 77.10 64.20
End-of-life energy (GJ) 6.21 7.13 6.68 5.93
Life cycle energy (GJ) 1654.09 1406.28 1323.57 1280.03

Construction GHG (t CO2 eq) 73.89 57.31 53.05 47.68

Operating GHG (t CO2 eq) 125.50 122.25 117.47 131.81
Maintenance GHG (t CO2 eq) 6.00 5.75 4.95 4.05
End-of-life GHG (t CO2 eq) 0.36 0.42 0.40 0.35
Life cycle GHG (t CO2 eq) 205.75 185.73 175.87 183.89

by base assembly during its whole life span is 1655.19 GJ, which and frequent maintenance cycles, resulting in reduced operating
reduces by approximately 15%, 20% and 23% for Proposal 1, Pro- energy and increased maintenance energy, leading to a higher pro-
posal 2 and Proposal 3 respectively. The greenhouse gas emissions portion of total construction energy at the same time.
of base assembly are also more than that of the other three propo- Making use of recycled materials could also have a positive
sals. The Proposal 3 is proved to be the best design out of the four impact on reducing the energy of building, as the energy consump-
wall assemblies for life cycle impact, while Proposal 2 performs tion could be decreased by approximately 10–25% with recycled
best in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. materials [18]. It can also be seen from the energy intensity of
relevant materials. For example, the energy intensity of virgin alu-
minum is 191.00 MJ/kg and that of recycled aluminum is 8.10 MJ/kg,
4.7. Comparison
while for virgin steel it is 32.00 MJ/kg and for recycled steel it
is 10.10 MJ/kg [28]. Therefore, with the development of recycling
As seen above, of the four wall assemblies, Proposal 3 has the
technologies, more recycled materials could be included in design
least life cycle energy at 1282.6 GJ, and also the lowest life cycle
and construction of buildings, leading to lower energy intensities.
energy intensity, at approximately 11,876 kWh/m2 . The life cycle
energy intensity is higher than that reported for low energy build-
ings, such as 7850 kWh/m2 [23] and 4700 kWh/m2 [24] while, it 5. Discussion
is lower than the results of well-insulated residential buildings
with steel frame, 14,940 kWh/m2 in Belgium and 17,699 kWh/m2 5.1. Structure
in Sweden [25]. The high energy-intensity of shelters is a result
of the special situation of application, requiring rapid deployment As mentioned above, the structure of temporary housing has a
and metal structural frame such as light-steel frame that can be higher proportion of life cycle energy consumption and greenhouse
disassembled quickly. In this case, the energy of the structure is gas emissions. Therefore, this study uses light steel as structural
approximately 19% of the life cycle energy and 30% of the total con- material instead of aluminum, and recalculates each part’s con-
struction energy, comparable with 27.3% of construction energy sumption as shown in Table 10 and Fig. 3. As a result, the life cycle
reported by Gaspar and Santos [26]. Their study used aluminum as energy of light steel structure could be reduced by 244.45 GJ, due
its structural material, having an important impact on the increase to the reduction in construction energy (241.93 GJ) and end-of-life
of both construction energy and life cycle energy, as aluminum is energy (2.52 GJ). In addition, the life cycle energy of four propo-
by far the most energy intensive material [26]. sals will decrease by 15%, 17%, 18% and 19% successively. On the
The percentage of construction energy depends on the useful other hand, the light steel structure will produced 15.85 t CO2 eq
life, location of the building and its operating demands. Thormark less than aluminum structure, making the life cycle greenhouse
[23] indicated that the percentage is approximately 40% for resi- gas emissions of base assembly decrease 8% and the other three
dential buildings, and the proportion is 44% according the results proposals 9%.
of Mithraratne et al. (2007) [17,23]. Huberman and Pearlmutter
showed that the construction energy represents between 10–60%
of the total energy used during the lifetime of the building, while the 5.2. Cladding
percentage of construction energy reaches 65% in this research [27].
Despite the influence of aluminum frame, the cases studied in above It can be seen from Fig. 4 that both construction energy and
research all have a life cycle of 50 years or more. But the disaster operating energy are much more than end-of-life energy, while
shelter studied here is a temporary building with a shorter lifetime construction energy in the four wall assemblies are more than

Table 10
Decline in life cycle energy and GHG emissions with light steel structure.

Base assembly Proposal 1 Proposal 2 Proposal 3

Construction energy (GJ) 20.25% 25.15% 26.76% 29.03%

Operating energy (GJ) – – – –
Maintenance energy (GJ) – – – –
End-of-life energy (GJ) 40.58% 35.34% 37.72% 42.50%
Life cycle energy (GJ) 14.78% 17.38% 18.47% 19.10%

Construction GHG (t CO2 eq) 21.25% 27.39% 29.59% 32.93%

Operating GHG (t CO2 eq) – – – –
Maintenance GHG (t CO2 eq) – – – –
End-of-life GHG (t CO2 eq) 41.67% 35.71% 37.50% 42.86%
Life cycle GHG (t CO2 eq) 7.70% 8.53% 9.01% 8.62%
402 Y. Song et al. / Energy and Buildings 128 (2016) 394–404

Fig. 3. Life cycle energy consumption with different structure.

Fig. 4. Life cycle energy consumption.

operating energy. However, the difference in operating energy of 10% of timber while its construction energy is 1.4 times more than
different assemblies is very small. timber.
Meanwhile, the construction energy of base assembly con- If the metal cladding materials in the four wall assemblies are
structed predominantly of metals is much more than that of others, all replaced with timber boards of 20 mm, the life cycle perfor-
as shown in Fig. 5. In Proposal 2, the volume of aluminum is only mance is recalculated as shown in Table 11. The life cycle energy and

Table 11
Decline in life cycle energy and GHG emissions with timber cladding.

Base assembly Proposal 1 Proposal 2

Construction energy (GJ) 414.01 34.65% 94.83 9.86% 54.08 5.98%

Operating energy (GJ) 26.55 7.41% 45.30 12.97% 5.25 1.56%
Maintenance energy (GJ) 6.54 6.91% 4.81 5.46% 12.50 16.21%
End-of-life energy (GJ) 0.55 8.86% 1.22 17.11% 0.68 10.18%
Life cycle energy (GJ) 447.65 27.06% 146.16 10.39% 72.51 5.48%

Construction GHG (t CO2 eq) 29.46 39.87% 8.86 15.46% 4.92 9.27%
Operating GHG (t CO2 eq) 9.29 7.40% 15.86 12.97% 1.84 1.57%
Maintenance GHG (t CO2 eq) 0.41 6.83% 0.33 5.74% 0.85 17.17%
End-of-life GHG (t CO2 eq) 0.03 8.33% 0.07 16.67% 0.04 10.00%
Life cycle GHG (t CO2 eq) 39.19 19.05% 25.12 13.53% 7.65 4.35%
Y. Song et al. / Energy and Buildings 128 (2016) 394–404 403

Fig. 5. Construction energy composition of different wall assemblies.

Fig. 6. Energy consumption of three wall assemblies.

greenhouse gas emission of Base assembly are reduced up to 27% while the results of the other three proposals remain the same, only
(447.65 GJ) and 19% (39.19 t CO2 eq), and those of Proposal 1 will the operating energy and greenhouse gas emissions of base assem-
decrease by 10% and 14% respectively. For Proposal 2, while the con- bly could be reduced by 3 GJ (1%) and 1.05 t CO2 eq (1%), which is
struction energy will be reduced by 54.08 GJ, operating energy (less also negligible to the life cycle performance.
5.85 GJ), maintenance energy (less 12.50 GJ) and end-of-life energy
(less 0.68 GJ) are reduced as well (Fig. 5). The life cycle energy of Pro-
posal 2 with timber boards will decrease by roughly 5.5% (73.11 GJ),
6. Conclusion
even lower than Proposal 3, and its CO2 emissions will decrease by
4.5% (7.86 t CO2 eq) at the same time (Table 10). Therefore, Proposal
In conclusion, the life cycle energy of post-disaster temporary
2 with timber boards would be the best design in both life cycle
housing is higher in comparison to low energy buildings due to
impact and greenhouse gas emissions as shown in Fig. 6.
unique requirements. Although temporary housing is not a build-
ing type that is used widely, due to the need to produce in vast
5.3. Air gap numbers within a limited time, it is paramount to reduce their life
cycle energy. As discussed above, the following guidelines of struc-
The research also attempts to compare the differences in energy ture and materials could be implemented in order to reduce life
consumption of four proposals with a 60 mm air gap. However, cycle energy of these shelters.
404 Y. Song et al. / Energy and Buildings 128 (2016) 394–404

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