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Buildings 2018, 8(8), 105; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings8080105

Strategies to Improve the Energy Performance of Buildings: A Review of Their Life Cycle Impact

1
Faculty of Engineering Science, Department of Architecture, KU Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 1 Box 2431, 3001 Leuven, Belgium
2
Working Group Sustainable Construction, Institute of Technology and Testing of Construction Materials, Graz University of Technology, Waagner-Biro-Straße 100/XI, 8020 Graz, Austria
3
Department of Architecture and Construction, School of Civil Engineering, Architecture and Urbanism, University of Campinas, Albert Einstein Avenue, 951, 13083-852 Campinas, Brazil
4
Unit Smart Energy and Built Environment, VITO NV|Boeretang 200, 2400 Mol, Belgium
5
Sustainable Construction Manager, European Insulation Manufacturers Association (EURIMA)
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 June 2018 / Revised: 3 August 2018 / Accepted: 4 August 2018 / Published: 12 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Building Sustainability Assessment)
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Abstract

Globally, the building sector is responsible for more than 40% of energy use and it contributes approximately 30% of the global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. This high contribution stimulates research and policies to reduce the operational energy use and related GHG emissions of buildings. However, the environmental impacts of buildings can extend wide beyond the operational phase, and the portion of impacts related to the embodied energy of the building becomes relatively more important in low energy buildings. Therefore, the goal of the research is gaining insights into the environmental impacts of various building strategies for energy efficiency requirements compared to the life cycle environmental impacts of the whole building. The goal is to detect and investigate existing trade-offs in current approaches and solutions proposed by the research community. A literature review is driven by six fundamental and specific research questions (RQs), and performed based on two main tasks: (i) selection of literature studies, and (ii) critical analysis of the selected studies in line with the RQs. A final sample of 59 papers and 178 case studies has been collected, and key criteria are systematically analysed in a matrix. The study reveals that the high heterogeneity of the case studies makes it difficult to compare these in a straightforward way, but it allows to provide an overview of current methodological challenges and research gaps. Furthermore, the most complete studies provide valuable insights in the environmental benefits of the identified energy performance strategies over the building life cycle, but also shows the risk of burden shifting if only operational energy use is focused on, or when a limited number of environmental impact categories are assessed. View Full-Text
Keywords: Life Cycle Assessment (LCA); building life cycle; energy efficiency; embodied energy; embodied carbon; insulation materials; renewable energy systems Life Cycle Assessment (LCA); building life cycle; energy efficiency; embodied energy; embodied carbon; insulation materials; renewable energy systems
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MIRABELLA, N.; RÖCK, M.; Ruschi Mendes SAADE, M.; SPIRINCKX, C.; BOSMANS, M.; ALLACKER, K.; PASSER, A. Strategies to Improve the Energy Performance of Buildings: A Review of Their Life Cycle Impact. Buildings 2018, 8, 105.

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