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Supporting the Embodied Energy Assessment in a BIM-driven Design Process
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering, Industrilized and sustainable construction.
2016 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Recent studies indicate that the embodied energy originating from the buildingmaterial supply chain (i.e. off-site production of materials and components andassociated transportation to the construction site) contributes significantly tothe total life-cycle energy use. Therefore, considering its impact during thebuilding design and pre-construction stage provides an opportunity to affect thebuilding energy use and sustainability performance. However, there are twomajor shortcomings with the life cycle assessment (LCA) tools used forassessment and reduction of the embodied energy use during the buildingdesign and pre-construction stage. (1) Many of the LCA tools use databasesbased on industry-average values which hinders the possibility to account forthe differences in the embodied impact of specific materials sourced fromindividual suppliers. (2) Lack of interoperability between the LCA tools andthe Building Information Modeling (BIM) software which has become an assetfor supporting decisions during building design and pre-construction. Thisinteroperability issue increases the amount of time and effort required forassessment of the embodied energy and also increases the risks for mistakes,misunderstandings and errors due to the manual re-entry of BIM data into the LCA tools.

Therefore, the overall purpose of the research is to investigate the possibility tomitigate the aforementioned shortcomings by integrating the analyses of theembodied energy into a BIM-driven design process. Two research questionshave been defined: (1) What is a suitable data source for assessment of theembodied energy? (2) How can the embodied energy assessment be integratedinto a BIM-driven design process?

To address the first research question in identifying a suitable data source forassessing the embodied energy, literature studies were conducted to provideinsights into the existing Life-Cycle Inventory (LCI) data used for assessmentof the embodied energy. To address the second research question, several caseswere studied using a prototyping approach which enabled the identification ofrequired processes and functions for supporting assessment of the embodiedenergy in a BIM-driven design process.

The result of the literature studies and answer to the first research questionindicate that Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) of materials andcomponents can be recognized as a suitable data source for assessment of theembodied energy. EPDs provide a detailed LCA data for a specific productwhich is implemented according to Product Category Rules (PCR) and verifiedby an independent third party. PCRs provide pre-established guidelines andrequirements for the LCA of a certain product category and by this meanensure the principle for comparability of the LCA data. The main outcome ofthe second research question is a framework which highlights the requiredprocesses for facilitating and supporting assessment of the embodied energy ina BIM-driven design process. The framework uses the suppliers’ EPDs tosupport the design decisions and enable assessment of the embodied impactcaused by the building material supply chain. The framework also ensuresBIM-LCA interoperability by integrating the Extract, Transform Load (ETL)technology with BIM, enabling an automated or semi-automated assessmentprocess, to reduce the amount of time, efforts and risks for mistakes that wasreported to be the major obstacles within the embodied energy assessment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Luleå: Luleå University of Technology, 2016.
Licentiate thesis / Luleå University of Technology, ISSN 1402-1757
National Category
Environmental Analysis and Construction Information Technology
Research subject
Construction Engineering and Management
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-60289ISBN: 978-91-7583-755-0 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7583-756-7 (electronic)OAI: diva2:1045833
2016-12-15, F1031, Luleå tekniska universitet, Luleå, 13:00
Available from: 2016-11-14 Created: 2016-11-10 Last updated: 2016-11-25Bibliographically approved

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