A life cycle assessment approach to improving the energy performance of housing: a case study

  • YEAR
    2015
  • AUTHORS
    Chok, Chooi Si
    Crawford, Robert H
  • CATEGORIES
    2015 Conference Papers
    Buildings and Energy
    Conference Papers

Extract

The aim of this study was to conduct a streamlined life cycle assessment (LCA) to identify the global warming potential (GWP) of a single-storey residential house (283 m² floor area) located in Melbourne, Australia. Evaluation of the initial design through a life cycle assessment approach was used to inform further improvements to the house across its initial construction, operation and maintenance stages with the aim of reducing its global warming impact. An input-output-based hybrid approach was used to calculate embodied energy of building materials and components based on a bill of quantities. IES-VE software was used to estimate operational energy demands of the house. Energy demand was converted into carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) using emissions factors to determine global warming potential. Based on the initial design, the total life cycle energy demand of the house was 18,758 GJ (66 GJ/m²) and the initial global warming potential a significant 1,474 t CO₂-e (5.2 t CO₂-e/m²). The operational stage contributed 83% to the total global warming potential of the house. The redesign of the house focused on improving passive thermal performance using materials and systems readily available in the construction industry. Total life cycle energy demand was reduced by 29% to 13,238 GJ (47 GJ/m²). The initial global warming potential decreased by 29%, down to 1,039 t CO₂-e (3.67 t CO₂-e/m²) for the redesigned house. The study highlights the potential for further improvements and the need for alternative construction materials and technologies in the local construction industry.

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