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Life cycle analysis as a tool for CO2 mitigation in the building sector
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Applied Physics and Electronics.
2018 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (professional degree), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

After the Paris agreement 2015 the Energy Commission in Sweden proposed a goal for Sweden of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. The focus in this report has been on how buildings in Sweden could reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Year 2017 the government gave a task for Boverket in Sweden (National Board of Housing, Building and Planning) to investigate the possibility to introduce a climate declaration on buildings. The idea is a life cycle analysis (LCA) should be performed on the building in order to get a building permit. An LCA include all CO2 emissions emitted from resources used for raw material extraction, production of materials, construction site operations, user phase and also the demolition and disposal in the end of life of the building. The first draft from Boverket was published in February 2018 where they recommended a simple declaration. They recommended in the beginning to only include a few components in the declaration, and to only include the production phase. The major interest in this report have been to gain more understanding on how to perform LCAs and also how the LCA result could be used to decrease CO2 emissions. A case study was made on a residential building project called Mården, in Umeå Sweden.

The first part in this thesis was to determine the phase in the buildings life cycle with the largest potential for decreasing CO2 emissions. When the LCA was performed on case study building Mården it was difficult to use exact data, since only 20 % of the construction products where declared in an environmental product declaration (EPD). Therefore the other 80 % where approximated with similar products declared in an EPD, or with generic data (general data for a type of product). An EPD is an LCA on a single product and could therefore give exact information on CO2 emissions for a specific product. However, several improvements where implemented in the buildings life cycle and where compared with this reference case. The result from the LCA showed the energy use in the user phase emitted the largest amount of CO2 emissions, and therefore also where the phase with the largest potential for reducing CO2 emissions. When the Swedish district heating mix where replaced with an energy source with 50 % less CO2 emissions, the emissions for the whole life cycle could be decreased with 20 %. Smaller improvements such as more environmental friendlier concrete, shorter transport distance between manufacturer and construction site or less water usage resulted in a decrease by 1.6-7 %. It was though shown these smaller improvement could result in a large decrease of CO2 emissions if more buildings also would improve the same thing. 2.4 million tons of CO2 emissions could for example be reduced in Sweden if 50 % of Sweden’s all new building projects would improve their choice of concrete. To make sure buildings could reduce their CO2 emissions there is important LCAs are performed before the building is constructed, to make sure all phases in the life cycle can be improved. If an LCA will be performed when the building is constructed, it is only possible to improve a few parts in the user phase, since the other phases already have passed.

The second part in this thesis was to compare the different LCA softwares; (i) One Click LCA (needs license, from Finland), (ii) e-tool (free, from Australia) and (iii) BM (free, from Sweden). When more exact data were tried to be used in e-tool and One Click LCA the results were similar for the CO2 emissions from the production phase. E-tool only resulted in 6 % higher CO2 emissions in the production phase than One Click LCA. The LCA in the eventual future climate declaration will probably be performed with generic data, since in an early stage the contractors will not have detailed information on their construction products. An LCA was thus performed in each software with generic data, and the result differed a lot. The CO2 emissions from the production phase resulted in 36 % and 23 % less CO2 emissions in BM and e-tool than in One Click LCA. If several softwares will be allowed in this eventual climate declaration, the judgment could be difficult since different generic data is used in each sofware. The generic data were also different for one type of product in a single software, where the CO2 emission could differ with as much as 50 % between two types of generic data for one type of products. This leads to a difficulty when choosing generic data since there will be lack of information on the construction products at the time when this eventual climate declaration should be performed. A main focus for the future development should be on evaluating a standard database that could be used in EU.

If a future law will be implemented it could be valuable to declare detailed rules on how to perform the LCA. Since depending on who will perform the LCA different results could occur due to different data used or assumptions on things like products, boundaries or used resource. However, this master thesis has shown there is possible to use the LCA methodology to find solutions for decreasing the CO2 emissions for buildings.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. , p. 54
Keywords [en]
LCA, Global Warming, Building sector, EPD, LCA software, One Click LCA, e-tool, BM, Paris Agreemant
National Category
Energy Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-157157OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-157157DiVA, id: diva2:1295949
External cooperation
Sweco; Bostaden AB
Educational program
Master of Science Programme in Energy Engineering
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-03-13 Created: 2019-03-13 Last updated: 2019-03-13Bibliographically approved

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