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Demolished buildings: Empirical evidence on types, ages and construction materials

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCESB16 - Central Europe towards Sustainable Building 2016
Subtitle of host publicationInnovations for Sustainable Future, June 22-24, 2016, Prague
EditorsPetr Hajek, Jan Tywoniak, Antonin Lupisek, Katerina Sojkova
Place of PublicationPrague
PublisherCzech Technical University in Prague
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)978-80-271-0248-8
ISBN (Print)978-80-271-0248-8
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2016
Publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
Duration: 1 Jan 1900 → …


Period1/01/00 → …


Studies have found that from the ecological perspective, preservation of existing buildings is usually more sustainable than demolition and new construction. Knowledge about the characteristics of demolished buildings could help to promote renovation of buildings and to advance more sustainable management of building stocks, but so far the acquisition of comprehensive data has posed an immense challenge for research. Due to the lack of empirical evidence, the current understanding is largely based on theorizing. To participate in bridging this gap of knowledge, the current study takes advantage of data extracted from the Finnish Building and Dwelling Register. This data, which encompass all buildings demolished in Finland between 2000 and 2012 (50 818 buildings), are utilized to investigate the ages, decades of origin and construction materials and methods of demolished buildings by building types in 11 different categories from residential to non-residential. The results show that buildings are being demolished after remarkably short service lives. On average, the demolished buildings were only 51 years old — a service life that is considered as appropriate for temporary structures in the current design guidance. Furthermore, prefabricated buildings reached lives around 20 years, which is clearly less than with in situ built buildings. The average lives of buildings made of different materials were as follows: 54 years (timber buildings), 50 years (brick buildings), 40 years (concrete buildings) and 19 years (steel buildings). A comparison to statistics covering the existing stock showed that demolition is typically underrepresented in the youngest cohorts and overrepresented in older cohorts.

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland