Volume 5 Issue 2
Apr.  2020
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Preliminary Sensitivity Study on an Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Tool via Assessing a Hybrid Timber Building

  • Corresponding author: Meng GONG, e-mail addresses:meng.gong@unb.ca
  • Received Date: 2020-01-11
    Accepted Date: 2020-02-19
    Fund Project:

    The authors would like to thank the New Brunswick Innovation Research Chair Program financially supported by the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, Canada. The authors would also like to express their sincere appreciation to Drs. Hongmei Gu, Shaobo Liang and Richard Bergman, the Economic, Statistics, and Life Cycle Assessment Unit, USDA Forest Products Laboratory, for their guidance and support.

  • In order to address concerns related to global warming and increased atmospheric carbon content, the life cycle assessment (LCA) tool has demonstrated usefulness in the building and construction sector. The LCA is used to evaluate environmental impacts concerning all stages of the building process from “cradle” to “grave”. The LCA helps to promote sustainable development by considering environmental indicators such as stratospheric ozone depletion, eutrophication, global warming potential, and many more. It is of an interest to know the degree of impact on a given environmental indicator if an input is changed in terms of the type or amount of the materials used. The LCA software Athena IE4B was employed to analyze data of a selected timber building. This study is aimed at evaluating the sensitivity of LCA analysis on a hybrid timber building, which was done via two case studies. Case 1 focused on changes in the volume of wood materials, meanwhile Case 2 focused on simultaneous changes in the volume of materials for wood, steel, and concrete. In Case 1, it was observed increasing wood materials increased environmental indicators, with stratospheric ozone depletion being the most sensitive and global warming potential as the least sensitive. On the other hand, Case 2 discovered that proportionally increasing wood materials in relation to steel and concrete materials decreased environmental indicators, with eutrophication being the most sensitive and stratospheric ozone depletion as the least sensitive. This study helped support the feasibility of using Athena IE4B for LCA analysis in the initial assessment of a building.
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    Abergel, T., Dean, B., Dulac, J., 2017. Towards a zero-emission, efficient, and resilient buildings and construction sector:Global Status Report 2017. International Energy Agency, Paris, France.
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    Bare, J., Young, D., Qam, S., Hopton, M., Chief, S. 2012. Tool for the Reduction and Assessment of Chemical and other Environmental Impacts (TRACI). US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington DC, USA.
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    Building and Construction Technology, 2017. The John W. Olver Design Building at UMass Amherst. https://bct.eco.umass.edu/about-us/the-design-building-at-umass-amherst/.
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    Frearson, A., 2016. Architects embrace "the beginning of the timber age". https://www.dezeen.com/2015/11/09/crosslaminated-timber- construction-architecture-timber-age/.
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    Gu, H., Bergman, R., 2018. Life cycle assessment and environmental building declaration for the design building at the University of Mass-achusetts. General Technical Report:FPL-GTR-255, US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, WI, USA.
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    Han, G., Srebric, J., 2011. Life-cycle assessment tools for building analysis. Research Brief:RB0511, Pennsylvania Housing Research Centre, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA.
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    Hauschild, M.Z., Huijbregts, M.A.J.. 2015. Introducing life cycle impact assessment. Springer Nature, Berlin, Germany.
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    Howe, J.C., 2010. Overview of green buildings. National Wetlands Newsletter 33 (1):3-14.
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    ISO, 2006. Environmental Management-Life Cycle Assessment-Principles and Framework. ISO 14040, International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Geneva, Switzerland.
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    Margni, M., Curran, M.A., 2012. Life cycle impact assessment. In Book "Life Cycle Assessment Handbook:A Guide for Environmentally Sustainable Products", Edited by Curran, M.A., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ, USA.
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    Pisano, U., Lange, L.K., Berger, G., Hametner, M. 2015. The sustainable development goals (SDGs) and their impact on the European SD governance framework. European Sustainable Development Network (ESDN), ESDN Quarterly Report No. 35, Vienna, Austria.
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    Ritter, M.A., Skog, K., Bergman, R. 2011. Science supporting the economic and environmental benefits of using wood and wood products in green building construction. General Technical Report:FPL-GTR-206. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, WI, USA.
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    Sharma, A., Saxena, A., Sethi, M., Shree, V., Varun. 2011. Life cycle assessment of buildings:a review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 15(1):871-875.
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Preliminary Sensitivity Study on an Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Tool via Assessing a Hybrid Timber Building

    Corresponding author: Meng GONG, e-mail addresses:meng.gong@unb.ca
  • a Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, E3C2G6, Canada;
  • b Department of Biology, Queen's University, Kingston, ON, K7L3N6, Canada
Fund Project:  The authors would like to thank the New Brunswick Innovation Research Chair Program financially supported by the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, Canada. The authors would also like to express their sincere appreciation to Drs. Hongmei Gu, Shaobo Liang and Richard Bergman, the Economic, Statistics, and Life Cycle Assessment Unit, USDA Forest Products Laboratory, for their guidance and support.

Abstract: In order to address concerns related to global warming and increased atmospheric carbon content, the life cycle assessment (LCA) tool has demonstrated usefulness in the building and construction sector. The LCA is used to evaluate environmental impacts concerning all stages of the building process from “cradle” to “grave”. The LCA helps to promote sustainable development by considering environmental indicators such as stratospheric ozone depletion, eutrophication, global warming potential, and many more. It is of an interest to know the degree of impact on a given environmental indicator if an input is changed in terms of the type or amount of the materials used. The LCA software Athena IE4B was employed to analyze data of a selected timber building. This study is aimed at evaluating the sensitivity of LCA analysis on a hybrid timber building, which was done via two case studies. Case 1 focused on changes in the volume of wood materials, meanwhile Case 2 focused on simultaneous changes in the volume of materials for wood, steel, and concrete. In Case 1, it was observed increasing wood materials increased environmental indicators, with stratospheric ozone depletion being the most sensitive and global warming potential as the least sensitive. On the other hand, Case 2 discovered that proportionally increasing wood materials in relation to steel and concrete materials decreased environmental indicators, with eutrophication being the most sensitive and stratospheric ozone depletion as the least sensitive. This study helped support the feasibility of using Athena IE4B for LCA analysis in the initial assessment of a building.

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