TU.3.D || Life Cycle Innovation to Drive Sustainability and Business Performance

Ko, Nathanael; Bässler, Tilman; Bässler, Benjamin

This paper tells of a transition driven by life cycle thinking. The traditional business of producing plastic based windows in southern Germany has reached its limits. Therefore, a new business field is entered: wooden houses. In this transitional process, which is the biggest investment in the last 30 years, with new machines and new products, the life cycle thinking is integrated early on in the decision making. First, literature is studied to get a general idea of environmental footprints of wooden houses versus conventional houses. Secondly, drafts of different options for walls, roofing, doors and windows are assessed for their environmental footprint, using data from the Ökobau.dat. All materials, additionally, are screened for their plastic content, as a low plastic footprint is also one of the criteria for the wooden houses. Another driving force behind the design of the house is the idea of re-usability of different elements to prolong the use-phase within the life cycle. In a following step the wood from a local forest is assessed in more detail, as is the performance of the new machine, which is capable of processing wood, which has been damaged by the bark beetle. Overall, the wall structure is made of around 80% of wood, which seldomly finds direct usage in the building sector. With these assessments it is made sure, that the layout and processes within the construction-phase have a low overall impact. As the houses are designed for longevity, the energy demand during the use-phase also needs to be brought down to a minimum. This is achieved through suitable insulation and other elements for energy production on site. In conclusion, this case study within this small company shows, that it is possible to integrate life cycle thinking in companies even in times of drastic changes.