What is Durability?
Durability is defined as the ability of a material to remain serviceable in the surrounding environment during the useful life without damage or unexpected maintenance, when faced with the challenges of normal operation over its design lifetime.
There are several measures of durability in use, including years of life, hours of use, and a number of operational cycles In economics, goods with a long usable life are referred to as durable goods.
Durability should be understood as the ability of the constructive system and its materials not to exhibit significant deteriorations that imply loss of functionality for which they were designed.
In this sense, more durable constructions reduce maintenance and repair costs and reduce the environmental impact that would be caused by the exploitation of new raw materials and the generation of construction waste in case of the need for demolition.
The durability of a building must meet, at least, the design working life, and during this period the necessary maintenance procedures that should be specified for the system must be met. Buildings with concrete blocks can have high durability, with a long history of work over 50 years of use.
Due to their characteristics, concrete structures, such as masonry with concrete blocks, can withstand a series of attacks caused by exposure conditions such as high humidity, wind-driven rain, ultraviolet light, and insect attacks.
Requirements for product durability
Product durability is predicated by good repairability and renderability in conjunction with maintenance. Every durable product must be capable of adapting to technical, technological and design developments. This must be accompanied by a willingness on the part of consumers to forgo having the “very latest” version of a product.
In the United Kingdom, durability as a characteristic relating to the quality of goods that can be demanded by consumers was not clearly established until an amendment of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 relating to the quality standards for supplied goods in 1994.
Product life spans and sustainable consumption
The lifespan of household goods is a significant factor in sustainable consumption. Longer product life spans can contribute to eco-efficiency and sufficiency, thus slowing consumption in order to progress towards a sustainable level of consumption. Cooper (2005) proposed a model to demonstrate the crucial role of product lifespans to sustainable production and consumption.
Types of durability
Durability can encompass several specific physical properties of designed products, including:
- Ageing (of polymers)
- Dust resistance
- Resistance to fatigue
- Fire resistance
- Radiation hardening
- Thermal resistance