Focus on durability in new asset building

Focus on durability in new asset building
© ilkercelik, image #156973173, 2017, source:
Materials, Waste
All sectors
High cost
Annual saving:
5 - 10 %
Payback time:
1 - 10 Year(s)
Payback time:
Payback time on durable assets depends on the lifetime of the non-durable alternative, which differs for each type of asset
Total cost savings:
Durable assets generate cost savings in the long run by eliminating the need to buy completely new ones
Premises and operation areas:
Office management, Office building, Production building, Product and design, Supply operations
Size of company:
Micro (less than 10), Small (less than 50), Medium (less than 250), Large (more than 250)
Advancement in applying resource efficiency measures:
Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
What is in it for you:
Saving resources in the production phase. Lower life-cycle costs. Lower management and operations costs.
Descriptive information:

Extending the lifetime of a product (asset) has a number of environmental advantages: less resource extraction, less energy embedded (the direct and indirect energy required to produce goods plus the energy needed to source and process raw materials they contain) and less waste generated. Maintaining the first-life use of a product as long as possible is the best approach to cut overall resource use. 

According to the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), durability is defined as: “The maximum potential lifetime of a product before it becomes obsolete for further usage because it cannot maintain its main functions any longer, it is no longer economically viable to be repaired or to exchange wear out parts, and/ or it lacks necessary possibilities for tuning, personalising or upgrading.”

One of the main issues regarding durability is to know when to replace an asset. The Austrian standards for assessing the reparability of white and brown goods and the criteria used by I Fix IT, the global community of people helping each other repair things, are examples of inspiring directions. The product groups relevant to an office include electrical and electronic equipment, furniture and textiles.

If the existing product consumes more resources during its lifetime than a new one, it may be worth changing it following a cost-benefit analysis between the environmental and social costs of manufacturing a new product and the expected benefits of a new asset. This is particularly the case for energy and water-consuming products, such as building components or toilets and dishwashers. Another good practice is to take into consideration some durability criteria: expected product lifespan; longest possible guarantee; availability of maintenance instructions; product experience and upgradeability; model and brand compatibility; replaceability of components, etc.

As solving issues of durability and replaceability might be complex, the more asset managers know about available options the better. This approach is mainly applicable to large companies with a lot of assets and possibly multiple offices (i.e. banks with many branches). One solution may be to analyse the performance of new products to be purchased in terms of resource efficiency. This approach can also be included in the ISO 14000 family of environmental management standards.

There are also several initiatives in different countries related to ‘greening' the office. There are NGOs, websites with practical advice and individual consultants to help with this process. Most of the practical advice is connected to tips for saving resources but some relate to office assets as well.  

Want to know if relevant support is offered in your country?