Life cycle assessment on hybrid timber buildings

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University of New Brunswick


The emission of carbon dioxide and other noxious substances keeps increasing over time, eventually causing many environmental problems, such as global warming. It has been reported that buildings consume a huge share of energy, electricity, water and materials in the world and contribute about 20% of global emissions. To reduce the emissions from construction has become a new research aspect. Life cycle assessment (LCA) methods have been developed to evaluate the entire life cycle for buildings, which helps architects, engineers and builders seek to a better solution to protect the environment. This thesis was aimed at identifying a suitable software to do LCA on hybrid timber buildings. After the comparative study on two widely-used LCA software, Athena Impact Estimator for Buildings (IE4B) and OpenLCA, it was felt that Athena IE4B showed a better performance in doing the on buildings in Canada. A sensitivity study was also conducted to evaluate the most sensitive environmental indicators when running Athena IE4B. It was found that (1) the stratospheric ozone depletion could be the most sensitive indicator if a change only in the amount of wood materials was made; and (2) the eutrophication could be the best sensitivity indicator if changes in the amount of wood, steel and concrete materials were made together. In summary, the reasonable optimization of materials to be used in buildings could assist to reduce the environmental impact potential. Keywords: Environmental impact, Hybrid timber buildings, Life cycle assessment, Sensitivity study.