International Conference on Engineering Education for Sustainable Development (EESD) (7th : 2015)

Evaluation of materials impact on sustainability for buildings Orozco, Javier Jun 30, 2015

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata


52657-Orozco_J_EESD15_116_Evaluation_Of_Materials.pdf [ 607.67kB ]
JSON: 52657-1.0064693.json
JSON-LD: 52657-1.0064693-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 52657-1.0064693-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 52657-1.0064693-rdf.json
Turtle: 52657-1.0064693-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 52657-1.0064693-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 52657-1.0064693-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

EVALUATION OF MATERIALS IMPACT ON SUSTAINABILITY FOR BUILDINGS Javier Orozco 1 Universidad Politecnica de Valencia, Spain 2 jaormes@cst.upv.esa Abstract: The use of materials in architecture is lacking a systematic approach allowing the adequate comparison of performance from well established criteria and international standards. This situation is critically complex when the evaluation is developed at a design stage. Sustainability of materials in architecture requires a thorough analysis on the concepts of the ecology of contemporary construction, and the relevance for the final user. This effort involves identifying standards, databases and user profiles for defining requirement attributes of our existing anthropogenic stock of buildings while formulating design strategies that contribute to reuse and recycling of building materials and components. After considering all relevant information a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) approach is introduced for the correct evaluation of materials in the sustainable building. This paper provides an academic guide for a systematic approach to this evaluation. Materials are compared and ranked from the building systems perspective, through the previously defined LCA approach. The impact of hybrid materials is also explored as an alternative strategy for the architectural use of materials today. At the final stage the relevance of materials in the overall evaluation is performed through commercial software solutions and incorporated to the design. Life cycle engineering design (LCED) is the key and comprehensive procedure to realize manufacturing industries sustainable development. This paper puts forward knowledge management architecture of LCED based ontologies and multi-agent system. Relevant conclusions are identified for the design and use of new materials in architectural design which are implemented into relevant courses at UPV. 1 BACKGROUND FOR SUSTAINABILITY IN ARCHITECTURE 1.1 Relevance As the architectural and construction industries increasingly emphasize sustainability, more comprehensive methods are being developed to evaluate and reduce environmental impacts by buildings. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is emerging as one of the most functional assessment tools. However, presently there is a scarcity of clear guiding principles specifically directed towards the architectural profession in the use of building LCA during the design process, and its evaluation through relevant international Sustainability Standards for buildings.  EESD’15    The 7th International Conference on Engineering Education for Sustainable Development Vancouver, Canada, June 9 to 12, 2015  116-1 1.2 International Standards Environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) has evolved over the last three decades from merely energy analysis to a comprehensive environmental burden analysis in the 1970s, fully fledged life cycle impact assessment and life cycle costing models were introduced in the 1980s and 1990s, and social LCA and particularly consequential LCA gained ground in the first decade of the 21st century. Many of the more recent developments were initiated to broaden traditional environmental LCA to a more comprehensive Life Cycle Sustainability Analysis (LCSA).  It is possible to distinguish two main periods in the past of the LCA: the first period is from 1970 to 1990: Decades of conception. And the second period is from 1990 to 2000: Decade of Standardization.  The first studies to look at life cycle aspects of products and materials date from the late sixties and early seventies, and focused on issues such as energy efficiency, the consumption of raw materials and, to some extent, waste disposal. Because of this, there was little distinction, at the time, between inventory development and the interpretation of total associated impacts. The period 1970-1990 comprised the decades of conception of LCA with widely diverging approaches, terminologies, and results.   In the second period standards began to settle. The 1990s saw a remarkable growth of scientific and coordination activities worldwide, which is reflected in the number of workshops and other forums that have been organized in this decade and in the number LCA guides and handbooks produced. Also the first scientific journal papers started to appear in the Journal of Cleaner Production, in Resources, Conservation and Recycling, in the International Journal of LCA, in Environmental Science & Technology, in the Journal of Industrial Ecology, and in other journals.  Through its North American and European branches, the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) has set a framework, terminology and methodology for LCA. Next to SETAC, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has been involved in LCA since 1994. Whereas SETAC working groups focused at development and harmonization of methods, ISO adopted the formal task of standardization of methods, and procedures. There are currently two international standards in place: • ISO 14040 (2006): Environmental management; Life cycle assessment; Principles and framework. • ISO 14011 (2006): Environmental management; Life cycle assessment; Requirements and guidelines.  The next period (1990-2000) can be summarized by the word "convergence" through SETAC.s coordination and ISO.s standardization activities, providing standardized framework and terminology, and platform for debate and harmonization of LCA methods. Note, however, that ISO never aimed to standardize LCA methods in detail: “there is no single method for conducting LCA” (Heijungs et al., 2011).  The rapid surge of interest in “cradle to grave” (or cradle to cradle, C2C) assessment of materials and products through the late 1980s and early 1990s meant that by the 1992 UN Earth Summit there was a ground swell of opinion that life-cycle assessment methodologies were among the most promising new tools for a wide range of environmental management tasks. The most comprehensive international survey of LCA activity to date., The LCA Sourcebook, was published in 1993.  Although the pace of development is slowing, the methodology is beginning to consolidate, moving the field toward a long awaited maturity. Yet the usefulness of the technique to practitioners is still very much in debate (Hoffman et al., 1997).  1.3 LCA evaluation procedures As we mentioned before, C2C incorporates into the Life Cycle (LC) the re-use/recycling phase. The intention is to introduce the material into the LC of others, once its useful life is finished. This methodology has evolved into a certification assessing the full potential of materials.  116-2 On the other hand the most commercialized certification on the current market is LEED –Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is intended to provide building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. It seeks for energy and water efficiency, indoor environmental quality, environmental friendly and sustainable sites.  Both, LEED and C2C are certifications, although LEED evaluates the building as a whole (Cidell, 2009) and C2C through its materials (Bakker et al., 2010). Both are lacking combined impact of the whole life cycle of a building.   The proposed implementation of LCA evaluation includes not only the impact of the actual material (embedded energy considering recycling), but also its handling, manufacturing and use (through the CO2 footprint). The evaluation of embodied energy, CO2 footprint and stressors to the environment should be performed for all the phases in a building´s life cycle:  • Design and construction. • Use. • End of life.  All parameters are evaluated for each phase producing a complete building environment for calculating the unified performance evaluation for the whole building in its environment. The Eco-audit procedure (de Benedetti at al., 2010) is implemented, with the support of a commercial Database (Ramalhete et al., 2010). 2 BUILDING SUSTAINABILITY ASSESSMENT IN ARCHITECTURE 2.1 Eco-audit The main impact indicators on this LCA procedure are the energy consumption (energy breakdown in terms of direct and indirect contributors, MJ per functional unit), the global warming potential (in terms of equivalent CO2 per functional unit) and the end of life possibilities (in terms of effective practicable scenarios, i.e. of recycling).  The choice to adopt the first two impact indicators (energy consumption and global warming potential) is due to the above mentioned need of simplification, maintaining, at the same time, a global vision of the whole environmental load.  Among the typical LCA impact indicators energy consumption and global warming potential probably have the ability to cover each life cycle phase of the considered system and they are understood by most of the public. The environmental stressors are considered as a limiting restriction   The end of life is then taken into consideration to specify the practicable scenarios referred to a component or material after the use phase. At this level, it could be useful to conduct a qualitative analysis about the possibility of disassembling the components of the product in order to identify the amount of material really reusable or recyclable.  By comparing the figures obtained through a balance on these parameters for the building life phases detailed in 1.3, a numerical criteria is formed for the sustainability of the building as a whole. The structured procedure used is as follows: • Prepare a draft project. • Analyze properties of the candidate materials per building subsystem criteria. • Prepare assemblies by detailed calculations from hybrid materials composition. • Select optimum options and quantify them. • Eco-audit the whole building including use and recycling information. • Develop alternative options for optimum design. 116-3 • Introduce the data into Excel spreadsheets and compare the sustainability evolution. • Fine-tune the sensitivity of the solution to use and recycling criteria.  Even if it is clear that the strengths and the weaknesses that are identified by the Eco-audit procedure strongly depend on the set of the selected environmental parameters that are used for ranking materials and processes, it allows the designer to be aware of a first set of reliable results to start an internal discussion about possible improvements to the building project.  Each Eco-audit begins with the materials measurement data from the project. The amounts specified are turned into weight units by a simple base change on each material. Complex materials are assembled from more simple units (through the corresponding technical sheet) as identified from the database used. Although the architecture database for CES Edupack can be used, further refinement has been achieved by developing a new database from the official database on construction materials provided on the spanish building code. The database provides only price references and sustainability data gathered from international accredited Universities. This database is under development and only for internal use. Further refinement will be required on the future following on going research and agreements.  2.2 Application results  The application of the procedure has been carried out on two stages. The first demonstrates how a specific architectural subsystem can be upgraded in its sustainability by incorporating different materials, while on a second stage, some buildings have been selected for a sustainability check.   2.2.1  2.2.2  2.2.3  2.2.4  2.2.5  2.2.6  2.2.7              Figure 1: Supermarket used for the application of the procedure with a surface of 1065 m2 and 3.3 m height    116-4 Table 1:  Sustainability indicators per sample architectural subsystem  Architectural Subsystem Building solution CO2 footprint (Tn CO2) Embedded energy (GJ)  Roof envelope Tiled (traditional) 131.8 1257.3 Green roof 29.4 239.4 Gravel roof 30.3 254.3   Outer envelope Stone walls 48.8 826.9 Brick walls 63.1 126.2 ETFE panels 20.5 24.2   Superstructure Concrete 210.9 95212.5 Wood 75.6 187.8 Steel 84.2 237.1  Table I presents the results of the procedure of different building materials selected for the supermarket presented on figure 1.  For the second stage several representative buildings (structurally equivalent) were selected and the most sustainable solutions found were applied and compared to the actual building materials used for each case. Table 2 presents the numerical results and figures 3 and 4 the plan for the 2 buildings used on the evaluation. Table 2:  Sustainable solutions on selected buildings  Building Building solution CO2 footprint (Tn CO2) Embedded energy (GJ) Alqueria l'Advocat Actual materials 150.7 12146.1 Sustainable solution 30.3 877.3  House at Mathes Actual materials 329.7 5890.3 Sustainable solution 101.2 766.1   Figure 2: Alqueria l'Advocat 116-5           Figure 3: House at Mathes  3 CONCLUSIONS This paper implements in architecture the eco-audit procedure for LCA in buildings. The eco-audit procedure has been shown to provide a simplified neutral evaluation for sustainability as a whole a building from a global point of view. It has been shown that there are good opportunities for achieving a dramatic reduction in embodied energy, CO2 footprint, and energy consumption by an adequate selection of materials.  The design of energy efficient buildings is focused primarily on techniques for reducing life cycle energy consumption and life cycle global warming potential as much as possible using equipment and materials readily available through local suppliers.  The results obtained in this article urge for the development of an international database of building materials which will allow a neutral certification of sustainability and provide a better focused environmental awareness of the building market.  Overall reductions on material use of 57% can be achieved with better sustainability impacts. This is closely linked to energy and CO2 emission reduction in the design phase and transportation from the factories to the building site.  In comparison to standard building solutions savings in transport impact have been of almost 90%.  Regarding the pre-use phase, the changes made to relevant materials (regarding its percent weight in the building) by making them as environmentally friendly as possible, have achieved a reduction in embodied energy of 92% / 87% and 80% / 69% in CO2 footprint (for alqueria l'Advocat and the house at Mathes respectively). Besides, by choosing sustainable materials, they can be recycled and less earth resources are consumed, allowing a better match for today's environmental policies.  Life cycle energy profiles for both applications prevent environmental damage and secure a healthier life style in the future. The higher initial investment costs are more than made up for by energy bills savings.  The complete development of an internationally accepted database for this procedure based on the typical Eco-audit LCA evaluation of architectural solutions and materials could be developed into a new sustainability standard which could prevent wrong conclusions to be attained and a more neutral policy evaluation. 116-6  4 REFERENCES Heijungs, R.; Huppes, G.; Zamagni, A.; Masoni, P.; Life Cycle assessment: Past, Present and Future. Environ. Sci. Technol., 2011: 45 (1): pp 90–96. Hoffman, L.; Schmidt, A.; Life Cycle Assessment. A guide to approaches, experiences and in-formation sources. Man.of Environ. Quality: an int. Jour., 1997: 17 (4): pp 490-507. Cidell, J.; A political ecology of the built environment: LEED certification for green buildings; The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, 2009: 14 (7): pp 621-633. Bakker, C.A.; Wever, R.; Teoh, C.H.; de Clercq, S.; Designing cradle-to-cradle products: a reality check; International Journal of Sustainable Engineering, 2010: 3 (1): pp 2-8. de Benedetti, B.; Toso, D.; Baldo, G.L.; Rollino, S.; Eco Audit: a Renewed Simplified Procedure to Facilitate the Environmentally Informed Material Choice Orienting the Further Life Cycle Analysis for Ecodesigners; Materials Transactions, 2010: 51 (5): pp 832-837. Ramalhete, P.S.; Senos, A.M.R.; Aguiar, C.; Digital tools for material selection in product design: Materials & Design, 2010: 31 (5): pp 2275-2287.  116-7 


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items