The environmental performance of membrane structure: OCMW Zoutleeuw case study.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paper


Membrane structures are lightweight spatial structures made of tensioned membranes. They are mostly structurally optimized and highly efficient, prefabricated and designed for a varying lifetime. Like with conventional construction systems, it is important to understand and assess the ecological impact of these lightweight constructions.
This research studies the environmental performance of membrane structures by analysing a case study, the ‘OCMW Zoutleeuw’ canopy. In addition, the LCA of the membrane case study is compared with the LCA of a canopy made from steel with a similar size and function. Although the design is different, it allows to see some intrinsic qualities for both.
The literature review shows that few LCA studies on membrane structures have been performed and that LCA data for these structures are still very limited or even not available (such as data for structural steel cables, ETFE-foils, or PTFE-fabric). The existing data in Environmental Product Declarations need to be verified to interpret the results. Generally, the research shows that the impact of the product stage (A1-A3) on the environmental indicators is high, while the ‘end-of-life’ stage (C1-C4) and the ‘benefits and loads beyond the system boundaries’ stage (D) can also have a non-neglectable impact, certainly for temporary structures.
The LCA of the considered membrane structure and of the steel canopy shows that the Global Warming Potential (GWP) for the membrane structure is lower, even if the membrane is replaced during the service life of the canopy, while the available end-of-life processes of the steel/aluminium canopy are beneficial.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the TensiNet Symposium 2023 TENSINANTES2023
PublisherTensiNet Association
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9789464787313
ISBN (Print)9789464787313
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023
EventTensiNet symposium TENSINANTES2023: Membrane architecture: the seventh established building material. Designing reliable and sustainable structures for the urban environment. - Nantes Université, Nantes, France
Duration: 7 Jun 20239 Jun 2023
Conference number: 7


ConferenceTensiNet symposium TENSINANTES2023
Internet address


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