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Challenges 2015, 6(1), 98-116; doi:10.3390/challe6010098

Hybrid Life Cycle Assessment of Low, Mid and High-Rise Multi-Family Dwellings

1
New York State Pollution Prevention Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology, 111 Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester, NY 14623, USA
2
Golisano Institute for Sustainability, Rochester Institute of Technology, 111 Lomb Memorial Drive, Sustainability Hall, Rochester, NY 14623, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Andreas Manz
Received: 4 January 2015 / Revised: 22 April 2015 / Accepted: 22 April 2015 / Published: 30 April 2015
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Abstract

We undertake Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the cumulative energy demand (CED) and global warming potential (GWP) for a portfolio of 10 multi-family residences in the U.S. We argue that prior LCA studies of buildings use an inconsistent boundary for processes to be included in the supply chain: The operational phase includes all energy use in a building, but supply chains for the production of appliances, equipment and consumables associated with activities done in the building are neglected. We correct this by starting the analysis with an explicit definition of a functional unit, providing climate controlled space, and including processes associated with this functional unit. Using a hybrid LCA approach, the CED for low, mid and high-rise multi-family residences is found to increase from 30, 34, to 39 GJ/m2, respectively. This increase is due to the need for energy-intensive structural materials such as concrete and steel in taller buildings. With our approach, the share of materials and construction of total life cycle energy doubles to 26%, compared with a 13% share that would be obtained with inconsistent system boundaries used in prior studies. We thus argue that explicit definition of functional unit leads to an increase in the contribution of supply chains to building energy life cycles. View Full-Text
Keywords: life cycle assessment; functional unit; energy; greenhouse gases; economic input-output life cycle assessment; functional unit; energy; greenhouse gases; economic input-output
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Bawden, K.; Williams, E. Hybrid Life Cycle Assessment of Low, Mid and High-Rise Multi-Family Dwellings. Challenges 2015, 6, 98-116.

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