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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A contribution to design life and life cycle considerations of structures Schmalz, Thomas Christopher


The cost of a structure throughout its entire useful life has become an important issue in light of the deteriorating infrastructure and skyrocketing maintenance costs. As a result there has been an emergence of research interest in the field of life cycle analysis. In the last few decades researchers have begun to investigate the service life of existing structures which suffer from a real and perceived lack of performance. To address this issue, it has been suggested that, as part of the design process, more emphasis should be given to in-service performance of a structure which could possibly be based on design life concepts. Applying such concepts, considering the numerous variables and parameters involved, is undoubtedly a complex issue. This thesis summarizes the findings of recent research by the author, showing alternative approaches to the consideration of design life concepts as well as some discussion of the difficulties associated with them. Case studies are presented from the aerospace and nuclear industries, who have been applying design life considerations in one form or another for quite some time. Applicability of the methods used in these two industries to civil engineering structures have been considered and are explained. In considering civil engineering applications, the life span of a structure was broken up into the typical stages of progression, i.e. conceptual design, final design, construction, maintenance and repair, with the various influences identified and discussed at each of these stages. It followed from this research that quality control and quality assurance procedures at the design and construction stage have considerable influence on the design life of a structure. It was found that further research and development in these areas is required to propose a practical and effective means of assessing the durability of a structure.

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