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Using prefabrication to accelerate building renovation

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Buildings can undergo deep energy renovation in a fraction of the normal time for construction, thanks to EU-funded innovations.

Two projects called BERTIM and MORE-CONNECT have demonstrated ways of retrofitting prefabricated façade and roof panels that incorporate energy efficiency improvements. This kind of offsite construction means building renovations take less time on the building site, as little as a couple of days. Factory-based construction also improves quality and reduces waste.


MORE-CONNECT demonstrated its prefabricated renovation solution at five sites across Europe. In Denmark, a block of 170 apartments was renovated with prefabricated modules, including demonstration of a robot that sprays insulation and decorates external walls in a matter of hours. New roof modules integrating photovoltaics (PV) were installed, and apartments were monitored to measure the occupants’ comfort. In Latvia, an apartment building was renovated using prefabricated elements in 5 days – the first ever such renovation in the country. Similar demonstrations took place in Estonia, Czechia and the Netherlands. On average, MORE-CONNECT achieved energy reductions in the order of 60% leading to performance equivalent to a Nearly Zero-Energy Building (NZEB). MORE-CONNECT developed a handy guide for others to learn from its results.


In France and Sweden, the BERTIM project demonstrated a holistic renovation system also featuring prefabricated panels that were installed in just 15 hours to achieve a 62% energy reduction. The panels were made of wood to save on life cycle embodied carbon emissions, and the project developed smart connectors to fix the panels to irregular walls. The prefabrication process reduced construction waste by 15%, and a Life Cycle Analysis found that the building’s global warming potential was reduced by two thirds. Companies taking part in both BERTIM and MORE-CONNECT have invested in new prefabrication facilities, and new skills for their workers, to gear up for large-scale production.


As well as advancing the technology of offsite construction, new integrated ways of designing and collaborating were developed by both BERTIM and MORE-CONNECT. For example, data derived on site from existing buildings can be incorporated seamlessly into Building Information Modelling (BIM) software and exported directly to factory machinery for manufacture. With the European Green Deal placing a new emphasis on the role of buildings in achieving Europe’s climate and energy targets, innovations such as these will help accelerate the transition to a more sustainable built environment by 2050.


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