Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Specific challenge: Prefabricated components are more and more commonly used in the construction sector. Compared to traditional construction processes, prefabrication aims at reducing costs without compromising quality and facilitating installation/dismantling/re-use of components. It also facilitates the re-use of residue materials from the civil and industrial sectors. Building components could, when relevant, be prefabricated in factories to gain on construction time and to improve on-site health and safety. Accelerating the time for installation is particularly suitable for renovation while being occupied. Prefabrication should be adaptable to individual renovation solutions as well as for mass manufacturing in adequate projects and be adjusted and linked to computer design tools. 

Further research is needed to improve understanding of material and component behaviour in the whole life cycle[1] and, consequently, to be able to produce better performing products, taking into account important aspects such as the overall thermal performance and airtightness. Innovative technologies for energy efficiency (e.g. HVAC components) and renewable energy sources (e.g. photovoltaics, solar collector) can also be integrated in the prefabricated multi-functional modules and components. The elements are to be developed, prototyped, optimised and transferred from individual manufacturing to mass production.

Scope: Innovative mass manufacturing processes must be investigated to lower pre-fabrication costs and ease building integration processes, also taking into account the challenge of aesthetics of existing buildings. This requires the development of new controlled processes and cost-effective automated/robotised tools.

These innovations should be combined with integrated processes and the use of advanced computer based tools like Building Information Modelling which will facilitate the industrialisation of the whole construction process and integrate the value chain over the life cycle of the project. Durability of proposed solutions will have to be evaluated in real installation conditions, incorporating integrated and embedded reliable monitoring systems, as this is a crucial factor that influences final product performances. The criteria and methods for evaluation of the benefits should be transparent and simple.

During the development of technology and components for prefabricated facade elements, the use of recycled materials should be investigated and structural engineering aspects must be taken into account to enhance the automated and robotized construction technologies. A business model addressing cost-optimality aspects for given building types and geo-clusters across Europe should be addressed in the proposals.

The proposals should cover mainly demonstration activities. Prototypes and pilot implementations in real industrial settings represent a clear added-value, as does the involvement of SMEs involved in the manufacture and installation of prefabricated modules.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 3 and 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

This topic will be implemented under the PPP on Energy-efficient Buildings. The activities are expected to be implemented at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5-7 (please see part G of the General Annexes).

Expected impact:

·         Reduction in total buildings (primary) energy consumption by at least a factor of 2 with respect to the current situation, and a cost-level better than traditional renovation activities.

·         Significant reduction of renovation operations while ensuring low intrusiveness and impact for users.

·         Reduction in installation time by at least 30%, compared to a typical renovation process for the building type.

·         Better quality standard and performance guarantee for the installed prefabricated modules and their integrated components, while enhancing indoor air quality.

·         Demonstration of the replicability potential.

·         A maximum return on investment below 10 years for end-users.

·         Generation of new high-tech SMEs specialised in renovation with prefabricated modules.

·         High-skill jobs for workers that could master innovative construction tools.

Type of action: Innovation Actions

[1] Based e.g. on Life Cycle Assessment or Carbon Footprint of Products.

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