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Energies 2013, 6(2), 1125-1141; doi:10.3390/en6021125

A Materials Life Cycle Assessment of a Net-Zero Energy Building

1
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, 949 Benedum Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15261,USA
2
School of Sustainability and the Built Environment, Arizona State University, P.O. Box 875306, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA
3
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, 205 Benedum Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15261,USA
4
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, 153 Benedum Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA
5
Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, University of Pittsburgh, 153 Benedum Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 October 2012 / Revised: 15 January 2013 / Accepted: 6 February 2013 / Published: 21 February 2013
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Abstract

This study analyzed the environmental impacts of the materials phase of a net-zero energy building. The Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) is a three-story, 24,350 square foot educational, research, and administrative office in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. This net-zero energy building is designed to meet Living Building Challenge criteria. The largest environmental impacts from the production of building materials is from concrete, structural steel, photovoltaic (PV) panels, inverters, and gravel. Comparing the LCA results of the CSL to standard commercial structures reveals a 10% larger global warming potential and a nearly equal embodied energy per square feet, largely due to the CSL’s PV system. As a net-zero energy building, the environmental impacts associated with the use phase are expected to be very low relative to standard structures. Future studies will incorporate the construction and use phases of the CSL for a more comprehensive life cycle perspective.
Keywords: green buildings; life cycle assessment; living building challenge green buildings; life cycle assessment; living building challenge
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Thiel, C.L.; Campion, N.; Landis, A.E.; Jones, A.K.; Schaefer, L.A.; Bilec, M.M. A Materials Life Cycle Assessment of a Net-Zero Energy Building. Energies 2013, 6, 1125-1141.

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