The life cycle assessment of temporary reusable membrane structures: Case study analysis

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Membrane structures represent lightweight spatial structures composed of a primary framework
combined with tensioned membranes. Their popularity has increased due to their lightweight,
flexible, and durable characteristics. However, as all constructions, their production and use come
with an environmental impact. This study aims to assess the life cycle assessment of membrane
structures with temporary use, specially focusing on the Global Warming Potential, a well-
recognised indicator of greenhouse gas emissions.
Using Life Cycle Assessment methodology, this research evaluates the environmental impact of
membrane structures from raw material extraction to disposal. The investigation concentrates on
temporary membrane structures installed multiple times across different locations within a 25-
year lifespan. Two case studies, Nomad ADD-ON rental sails and Wolke Marienfeld, are analysed.
The LCA of a temporary structure involves three distinct LCAs: one for the initial installation,
one for each intermediate installation, and a final assessment for the end installation.
Results indicate that temporary reusable membrane structures demonstrate a significant
environmental impact, primarily due to the high energy consumption during manufacturing and
transportation. It is essential to consider the effects of the ‘End-of-Life’ stages and the ‘benefits
and loads beyond the system boundaries’ stage, particularly for temporary structures.
This research aims to raise awareness about the environmental impact of temporary membrane
structures and offers a framework for sustainable design and construction methods. Additionally,
it explores potential strategies to reduce the environmental impact including thoughtful material
choices, innovative construction practices and effective End-of-Life management.
Original languageEnglish
Article number109953
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Building Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Elsevier Ltd


  • Lightweight structures
  • structural membrane
  • Sustainability
  • Environmental impacts
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Temporary reusable structures


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