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Decreasing the carbon footprint of energy efficientbuildings, what comes next?
SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3140-6823
SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden.
SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden.
2013 (English)In: Passivhus Norden 2013, 2013Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

A full LCA was conducted to explore the contribution from each life cycle stage to the carbonfootprint of energy efficient buildings, and the role of bio-based materials as future potentialalternatives to decrease further carbon emissions in the building sector. Eight different designalternatives with comparable functionality were evaluated for Wälluden, a four-storey multi-familybuilding in Växjö, Sweden. The designs include three different building systems; volumetric modules,massive timber structural elements and a column-beam structure as well as the original design of thebuilding from 1995 both with wood and concrete frame structures. The three new designs weremodelled under conventional and passive house energy efficiency categories. A square meter ofliving area was used as the functional unit, and a service life of one hundred years was assumed. Theanalysis includes processes from raw material extraction, manufacturing of building materials,construction, energy generation for the use phase, selected maintenance activities, demolition anddisposal of the building waste. Concrete carbonation phenomena, carbon storage and end-usebenefits from substituting fossil energy effects with wood material waste were also explored. Theresults show that the benefits of more use phase energy efficient designs are significant, but as theuse-phase impact lowers and there is less improvement potential; both the production and end-usephase become more relevant. Indeed, for the passive house design, the production phase carbonfootprint is of the same order as for a one hundred years use phase. For the production phase,increasing the share of bio-based products can decrease significantly the carbon footprint of theproduction phase of a building, no matter which building system is chosen. Bio-based materials havehigher potential environmental benefits for the end-use phase, even as there are uncertainties overthe fate of materials in future waste management systems.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013.
Keyword [en]
Life Cycle Assessment, Carbon Footprint, Wood Construction, Low-Emission buildings, Passive House
National Category
Building Technologies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-161212OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-161212DiVA: diva2:794022
Conference
Passivhus Norden 2013, Göteborg, Sweden
Note

QC 20150310

Available from: 2015-03-10 Created: 2015-03-10 Last updated: 2015-03-10Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Exploring climate impacts of timber buildings: The effects from including non-traditional aspects in life cycle impact assessment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Exploring climate impacts of timber buildings: The effects from including non-traditional aspects in life cycle impact assessment
2015 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

There is an urgency within the building sector to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change. An increased proportion of biobased building materials in construction is a potential measure to reduce these emissions. Life cycle assessment (LCA) has often been applied to compare the climate impact from biobased materials with that from e.g. mineral based materials, mostly favouring biobased materials. Contradicting results have however been reported due to differences in methodology, as there is not yet consensus regarding certain aspects. The aim of this thesis is to study the implications from non-traditional practices in climate impact assessment of timber buildings, and to discuss the shortcomings of current practices when assessing such products and comparing them with non-renewable alternatives.

The traditional practices for climate impact assessment of biobased materials have been identified, and then applied to a case study of a building with different timber frame designs and an alternative building with a concrete frame. Then, non-traditional practices were explored by calculating climate impact results using alternative methods to handle certain methodological aspects, which have been found relevant for forest products in previous research such as the timing of emissions, biogenic emissions, carbon storage in the products, end-of-life substitution credits, soil carbon disturbances and change in albedo. These alternative practices and their implications were also studied for low-carbon buildings.

The use of non-traditional practices can affect the climate impact assessment results of timber buildings, and to some extent the comparison with buildings with lower content of biobased building materials. This effect is especially evident for energy-efficient buildings. Current normal practices tend to account separately for forest-related carbon flows and aspects such as biogenic carbon emissions and sequestration or effects from carbon storage in the products, missing to capture the forest carbon cycle as a whole. Climate neutrality of wood-based construction materials seems like a valid assumption for studies which require methodological simplification, while other aspects such as end-of-life substitution credits, soil carbon disturbances or changes in albedo should be studied carefully due to their potentially high implications and the uncertainties around the methods used to account for them. If forest phenomena are to be included in LCA studies, a robust and complete model of the forest carbon cycle should be used. Another shortcoming is the lack of clear communication of the way some important aspects were handled.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2015. xvi, 31 p.
Series
TRITA-BYMA, ISSN 0349-5752 ; 2015:1
Keyword
life cycle assessment (LCA), timber buildings, biobased building materials, low-energy buildings, forest products, climate impact assessment, biogenic emissions, carbon storage, timing of emissions
National Category
Building Technologies
Research subject
Industrial Ecology; Civil and Architectural Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-161193 (URN)
Presentation
2015-03-17, SP Conference room 3, Drottning Kristinas väg 45, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20150310

Available from: 2015-03-10 Created: 2015-03-09 Last updated: 2015-03-10Bibliographically approved

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