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Sustainability 2016, 8(12), 1303; doi:10.3390/su8121303

Quantification of Improvement in Environmental Quality for Old Residential Buildings Using Life Cycle Assessment

Department of Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Technical University in Zvolen, T.G. Masaryka 24, 960 53 Zvolen, Slovakia
Department of Environmental Management, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Matej Bel University, Tajovského 40, 974 01 Banská Bystrica, Slovakia
Department of Wooden Constructions, Faculty of Wood Sciences and Technology, Technical University in Zvolen, T.G. Masaryka 24, 960 53 Zvolen, Slovakia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Tan Yigitcanlar
Received: 22 November 2016 / Revised: 1 December 2016 / Accepted: 8 December 2016 / Published: 11 December 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Sustainable Urban and Rural Development)
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In Slovakia, 35% of buildings are older than 50 years but most newer buildings built before 1990 have greater energy consumption. Some other countries also have similar problems. The growing importance of energy saving in buildings can be, in the case of new and old residential buildings (RB), achieved by lowering thermal energy consumption most often by application of polystyrene insulation on the external walls and roof and the exchange of wood window frames for PVC (polyvinyl chloride) windows. The novelty of the article for Slovakia and some other central European countries consists in using the life cycle assessment (LCA) method for the objective assessment of the environmental benefits of the selected systems of wall insulation, as well as of energy savings in various time intervals of insulation functionality (up to 20 years). LCA software SimaPro (LE Amersfoort, The Netherlands) was used with ReCiPe and IMPACT 2002+ assessment methods to quantify the total environmental impact at selected endpoints and midpoints (IMPACT 2002+) of basic structural materials of an RB and its energy demand—heat consumption (hot water heating, central heating) before the application of insulation and thermal energy saving (TES) after application of insulation to its external walls, roof, and the exchange of windows. The data we obtained confirmed that the environmental impact of the polystyrene insulation of external walls, roof, and exchange of windows of one residential building (RB) in the first year after insulation is higher than the reduction caused by achieving a TES of 39%. When taking a lifespan of 20 years into consideration, the impact over the life cycle of the building materials is reduced by 25% (global warming: −4792 kg CO2 eq; production of carcinogens: −2479 kg C2H3Cl eq; acidification: −12,045 kg SO2 eq; and aquatic eutrophication: −257 kg PO4 P-lim). The verified LCA methodology will be used for comparative analysis of different variants of thermal insulation of buildings, and their functionality in the long term, while taking into account local specifics and the preparation of environmental product declarations. View Full-Text
Keywords: LCA; residential building; polystyrene; insulation; energy; environmental impact LCA; residential building; polystyrene; insulation; energy; environmental impact

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Mitterpach, J.; Hroncová, E.; Ladomerský, J.; Štefko, J. Quantification of Improvement in Environmental Quality for Old Residential Buildings Using Life Cycle Assessment. Sustainability 2016, 8, 1303.

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