Research Area:
Resource Efficiency of Settlement Structures

Non-residential structures – characteristics and structural indicators of non-residential buildings

In order to estimate and assess future urban development, consideration must be paid to both residential and non-residential structures. While a great deal of information is available on building typologies and structural patterns of residential buildings, corresponding information and base data must be further developed and expanded for non-residential buildings. This is a complex and methodologically difficult process due to the great variety of uses of non-residential buildings. 

example of non-residential structures
example of non-residential structures
example of non-residential structures
example of non-residential structures

The aim of the project is to describe various non-residential building structures with the help of resource-related and urban ecological indicators in order to permit the analysis of different issues such as present and future potentials of resource conservation.

The project was divided into two stages. In the course of a rough analysis, the non-residential sector was initially divided into different substructures. In the subsequent detailed analysis, suitable modelling and mapping algorithms were developed for selected substructures from a methodological point of view in order to derive (where possible) resource-related and urban ecological indicators and parameters as well as to generate an empirically-based framework of material indicators. The focus was primarily on the analysis of "material quantities" and "characteristic areas".

An algorithm was developed for relevant non-residential building types (e.g. office and administrative buildings, production halls, retail and warehouses, etc.) to calculate material quantities within the foundation, exterior walls, interior walls, ceilings and roof components and thus to help derive corresponding building indicators. The results are absolute and specific key material indicators for so-called synthetic or average buildings (Gruhler, Deilmann 2015; Gruhler, Deilmann 2017). They show that different uses of non-residential buildings are associated with different material quantities and, above all, material compositions. The compiled data and information flows into a building database. The IOER information portal Bauwerksdaten (BKI database 2017) ( provides details of the project. Furthermore, the gathered data also forms basis for discussions on, for example, material stocks and flows as well as their methodological background (Ortlepp, Gruhler, Schiller 2016; Schiller, Gruhler, Ortlepp 2017).

The GIS-based spatial investigations consider the analytical potentials of ATKIS, including the building footprints. Here the focus is on built-up areas with a designated usage. Relevant indicators are the site size, the number of buildings, the extent of built-up land and the proportion of land dedicated to transport. The class of use "education" was examined in greater detail. Analyses of the degree of sealing based on specific school locations show that older sites are less extensively sealed than younger, modernised sites. In particular, recent modernisation measures are associated with a significant deterioration in the ecological quality and hence the quality of living at school locations.


01/2013 - 09/2016


Dipl.-Ing. (Arch.)
Karin Gruhler

(Project manager)
Phone +49 351 4679 250


Basic funding