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A Life Cycle Assessment of Two Residential Buildings Using Two Different LCA Database-Software Combinations: Recognizing Uniformities and Inconsistencies

A Life Cycle Assessment of Two Residential Buildings Using Two Different LCA Database-Software Combinations: Recognizing Uniformities and Inconsistencies


Title: A Life Cycle Assessment of Two Residential Buildings Using Two Different LCA Database-Software Combinations: Recognizing Uniformities and Inconsistencies
Author: Emami, Nargessadat   orcid.org/0000-0001-8613-7654
Heinonen, Jukka   orcid.org/0000-0002-7298-4999
Marteinsson, Björn   orcid.org/0000-0003-3368-0674
Säynäjoki, Antti
Junnonen, Juha-Matti Kalevi   orcid.org/0000-0001-7538-8386
Laine, Jani
Junnila, Seppo
Date: 2019-01-14
Language: English
Scope: 20
University/Institute: Háskóli Íslands
University of Iceland
School: Verkfræði- og náttúruvísindasvið (HÍ)
School of Engineering and Natural Sciences (UI)
Department: Umhverfis- og byggingarverkfræðideild (HÍ)
Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering (UI)
Series: Buildings;9(1)
ISSN: 2075-5309
DOI: 10.3390/buildings9010020
Subject: Buildings; Comparison; Construction; GaBi; Life cycle assessment; SimaPro; Byggingarverkfræði; Byggingar; Byggingarefni; Umhverfisáhrif; Gagnasöfn
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11815/1854

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Citation:

Emami, N.; Heinonen, J.; Marteinsson, B.; Säynäjoki, A.; Junnonen, J.-M.; Laine, J.; Junnila, S. A Life Cycle Assessment of Two Residential Buildings Using Two Different LCA Database-Software Combinations: Recognizing Uniformities and Inconsistencies. Buildings 2019, 9, 20.

Abstract:

Traditionally, the emissions embodied in construction materials have not been considered important; however, they are becoming crucial due to the short time-frame in which the emissions should be reduced. Moreover, evaluating the environmental burden of construction materials has proven problematic and the reliability of the reported impact estimates is questionable. More reliable information from the construction sector is thus urgently needed to back and guide decision-making. Currently, the building sector environmental impact assessments predominantly employ commercial software with environmental impact databases and report results without knowledge about the impact of the software/database choice on the results. In this study, estimates for the embodied environmental impacts of residential construction from the two most widely used life cycle assessment (LCA) database-software combinations, ecoinvent with SimaPro software and GaBi, are compared to recognize the uniformities and inconsistencies. The impacts caused by two residential buildings of different types, a concrete-element multi-story residential building and a detached wooden house, both located in Finland, were assessed, including all building systems with a high level of detail. Based on the ReCiPe Midpoint method, fifteen impact categories were estimated and compared. The results confirm that the tool choice significantly affects the outcome. For the whole building, the difference is significant, around 15%, even in the most widely assessed category of Climate Change, and yields results that lean in different directions for the two cases. In the others, the estimates are entirely different, 40% or more in the majority of the categories and up to several thousand percentages of difference. The main conclusion is that extensive work is still urgently needed to improve the reliability of LCA tools in the building sector in order to provide reliable and trustworthy information for policy-making.

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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

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