Facades-as-a-Service: A cross-disciplinary model for the (re)development of circular building envelopes

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

51 Downloads (Pure)


Accelerating strategic investment in an energy- and material resource-efficient built environment

The de-carbonisation of the built environment hinges on the use of clean, renewable energy and the conservation of materials and components within circular reprocessing loops. The Façades-as-a-Service research concept aims to accelerate the rate and depth of building energy renovations – while safeguarding long-term responsibility over material resources – by creating a new value-chain based on the provision of integrated building envelopes under a performance contract.

The built environment is a major contributor to the resource management and sustainable development challenges we currently face on a global scale. The rate at which the building stock is improving, in terms of resource efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), is far below what is needed to meet even the most conservative climate change and environmental impact mitigation goals (European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy 2020). The strategic investment of limited resources – energetic, material, and financial – which dictates the development of the built environment, is largely driven by individual decision-makers with particular fields of
knowledge, specific interests, and acting within diverse time-scales.

Improving the resource-efficiency of the built environment, in terms of the quality of new constructions and the rate and depth of technical building retrofits, is not only a question of technological readiness, but rather of business and economic incentives. Emerging theoretical frameworks, such as the Circular Economy (CE) and Product-Service Systems (PSS), aim to realign or create these incentives by operationalising the value of better individual decision-making processes, internalising soft values and costs, and developing long-term collaborative project execution mechanisms.

In line with these frameworks, the research elaborates a multi-perspective analysis for a new performance-based investment model to promote the energy transition through the accelerated implementation of high-performance building envelope technologies. Boundaries for the research scope are established, in both technological and managerial ranges, to enhance the applicability of the model and the scientific relevance of the results. Reference is made to specific case-studies, organisations, and regional characteristics, followed by discussions on the implications of such focus groups for the extrapolation of universally applicable conclusions. Finally, the model is evaluated to determine its rate of success at addressing the resource management and environmental impact challenges previously identified.

Results show that, while the implementation of potentially Circular Business Models such as Product-Service Systems is technically possible within the current economic, legal, and managerial landscape, it is by no means a simple or standardised process. Significant systemic changes must take place in order to enable and incentivise the mainstream implementation of performance-based models capable of aligning stakeholder incentives towards more energy-efficient and resource-regenerative building procurement practices. The main bottlenecks towards such innovation are highlighted, and cross-disciplinary recommendations are made regarding the validity, up-scalability, and future development of the proposed methodology.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Klein, T., Supervisor
  • den Heijer, A.C., Supervisor
  • Konstantinou, T., Advisor
Award date20 Jun 2023
Print ISBNs978-94-6366-708-1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Circular Economy (CE)
  • Product-Service Systems (PSS)
  • building economics
  • real estate management
  • Llfe-Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA)
  • Total Value of Ownership (TVO)

Cite this