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Life cycle assessment of bridges, model development and case studies
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Civil and Architectural Engineering, Structural Engineering and Bridges.
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In recent decades, the environmental issues from the construction sector have attracted increasing attention from both the public and authorities. Notably, the bridge construction is responsible for considerable amount of energy and raw material consumptions. However, the current bridges are still mainly designed from the economic, technical, and safety perspective, while considerations of their environmental performance are rarely integrated into the decision making process. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a comprehensive, standardized and internationally recognized approach for quantifying all emissions, resource consumption and related environmental and health impacts linked to a service, asset or product. LCA has the potential to provide reliable environmental profiles of the bridges, and thus help the decision-makers to select the most environmentally optimal designs. However, due to the complexity of the environmental problems and the diversity of bridge structures, robust environmental evaluation of bridges is far from straightforward. The LCA has rarely been studied on bridges till now.

The overall aim of this research is to implement LCA on bridge, thus eventually integrate it into the decision-making process to mitigate the environmental burden at an early stage. Specific objectives are to: i) provide up-to-date knowledge to practitioners; ii) identify associated obstacles and clarify key operational issues; iii) establish a holistic framework and develop computational tool for bridge LCA; and iv) explore the feasibility of combining LCA with life cycle cost (LCC). The developed tool (called GreenBridge) enables the simultaneous comparison and analysis of 10 feasible bridges at any detail level, and the framework has been utilized on real cases in Sweden. The studied bridge types include: railway bridge with ballast or fix-slab track, road bridges of steel box-girder composite bridge, steel I-girder composite bridge, post tensioned concrete box-girder bridge, balanced cantilever concrete box-girder bridge, steel-soil composite bridge and concrete slab-frame bridge. The assessments are detailed from cradle to grave phases, covering thousands of types of substances in the output, diverse mid-point environmental indicators, the Cumulative Energy Demand (CED) and monetary value weighting. Some analyses also investigated the impact from on-site construction scenarios, which have been overlooked in the current state-of-the-art.

The study identifies the major structural and life-cycle scenario contributors to the selected impact categories, and reveals the effects of varying the monetary weighting system, the steel recycling rate and the material types. The result shows that the environmental performance can be highly influenced by the choice of bridge design. The optimal solution is found to be governed by several variables. The analyses also imply that the selected indicators, structural components and life-cycle scenarios must be clearly specified to be applicable in a transparent procurement. This work may provide important references for evaluating similar bridge cases, and identification of the main sources of environmental burden. The outcome of this research may serve as recommendation for decision-makers to select the most LCA-feasible proposal and minimize environmental burdens. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2015. , x, 36 p.
Series
TRITA-BKN. Bulletin, ISSN 1103-4270 ; 129
Keyword [en]
Sustainable construction; Life cycle assessment; LCA; Global warming; Bridge LCA; CO2 emissions; Cumulative energy demand
National Category
Infrastructure Engineering
Research subject
Civil and Architectural Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-161196OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-161196DiVA: diva2:793949
Public defence
2015-03-30, Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, KTH, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20150311

Available from: 2015-03-11 Created: 2015-03-09 Last updated: 2015-09-15Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Life cycle assessment framework for railway bridges: literature survey and critical issues
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Life cycle assessment framework for railway bridges: literature survey and critical issues
2014 (English)In: Structure and Infrastructure Engineering, ISSN 1573-2479, E-ISSN 1744-8980, Vol. 10, no 3, 277-294 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Currently, the whole world is confronted with great challenges related to environmental issues. As a fundamental infrastructure in transport networks, railway bridges are responsible for numerous material and energy consumption through their life cycle, which in turn leads to significant environmental burdens. However, present management of railway bridge infrastructures is mainly focused on the technical and financial aspects, whereas the environmental assessment is rarely integrated. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is deemed as a systematic method for also assessing the environmental impact of products and systems, but its application in railway bridge infrastructures is rare. Very limited literature and research studies are available in this area. In order to incorporate the implementation of LCA into railway bridges and set new design criteria, this article performs an elaborate literature survey and presents current developments regarding the LCA implementation for railway bridges. Several critical issues are discussed and highlighted in detail. The discussion is focused on the methodology, practical operational issues and data collections. Finally, a systematic LCA framework for quantifying environmental impacts for railway bridges is introduced and interpreted as a potential guideline.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2014
Keyword
Bridge, Life cycle assessment, Construction, Environment
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Research subject
Järnvägsgruppen - Infrastruktur
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-58620 (URN)10.1080/15732479.2012.749289 (DOI)000329688500001 ()2-s2.0-84892487673 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20131025

Available from: 2012-01-06 Created: 2012-01-06 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
2. LCA of Railway Bridge: a comparison between two superstructure designs
Open this publication in new window or tab >>LCA of Railway Bridge: a comparison between two superstructure designs
2013 (English)In: Structure and Infrastructure Engineering, ISSN 1573-2479, E-ISSN 1744-8980, Vol. 9, no 11, 1149-1160 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Railway bridges currently encounter the challenges of increasing the load capacity while the environmental sustainability should be achieved. However, it has been realised that the environmental assessment of railway bridges has not been integrated into the decision-making process, the standard guideline and criterion is still missing in this field. Therefore, the implementation of life cycle assessment (LCA) method is introduced into railway bridges. This article provides a systematic bridge LCA model as a guideline to quantify the environmental burdens for the railway bridge structures. A comparison case study between two alternative designs of Banafjäl Bridge is further carried out through the whole life cycle, with the consideration of several key maintenance and end-of-life scenarios. Six impact categories are investigated by using the LCA CML 2001 method and the known life cycle inventory database. Results show that the fixed-slab bridge option has a better environmental performance than the ballasted design due to the ease of maintenances. The initial material manufacture stage is responsible for the largest environmental burden, while the impacts from the construction machinery and material transportations are ignorable. Sensitivity analysis illustrates the maintenance scenario planning and steel recycling have the significant influence on the final results other than the traffic disturbances.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis Group, 2013
Keyword
Life cycle assessment, Bridge, Environment, Construction
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Research subject
Järnvägsgruppen - Infrastruktur
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-58618 (URN)10.1080/15732479.2012.670250 (DOI)000320574600006 ()2-s2.0-84879638590 (Scopus ID)
Note

Updated from accepted to published. QC 20130327

Available from: 2013-03-27 Created: 2012-01-06 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
3. Design of railway bridges considering life-cycle assessment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Design of railway bridges considering life-cycle assessment
2013 (English)In: Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Bridge Engineering, ISSN 1478-4629, E-ISSN 1751-7680, Vol. 166, no 4, 240-251 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The world is currently confronted with the challenge of preventing environmental degradation and resource depletion. To compare the environmental performance of two railway bridge designs, an Excel-based model was developed with implementing a simplified quantitative life-cycle assessment. The model covers the entire life cycle of the bridge, from raw material extraction to construction materials recycling and disposal. Various assumptions are made for selecting the relevant emissions and environmental impacts. A streamlined approach is applied to compare the environmental burden throughout the life cycle of the Banafjäl Railway Bridge. The bridge is a simply supported composite structure carrying one railway track. Two track alternatives are investigated: ballasted track and fixed track. The results show that the environmental impacts of the fixed track alternative are lower than those of the ballasted track alternative. From a sustainable development perspective, it appears that fixed track has a significant advantage as the overall environmental impact is reduced by up to 77%. The raw material phase is found to be decisive in the life cycle of both alternatives. The frequency of track replacement is identified as a key environmental parameter, because the extra environmental burden of traffic delay during bridge closure nearly overwhelmed the other life-cycle stages.

Keyword
Life cycle assessment, LCA, sustainable construction, sustainable bridge, Environment, Global warming, Climate change
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Research subject
Järnvägsgruppen - Infrastruktur
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-58619 (URN)10.1680/bren.10.00054 (DOI)2-s2.0-84893098626 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20130709. Updated from accepted to published.

Available from: 2012-01-06 Created: 2012-01-06 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
4. Life cycle assessment as a decision support tool for bridge procurement: environmental impact comparison among five bridge designs
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Life cycle assessment as a decision support tool for bridge procurement: environmental impact comparison among five bridge designs
2014 (English)In: The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, ISSN 0948-3349, E-ISSN 1614-7502, Vol. 19, no 12, 1948-1964 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The conventional decision-making for bridges is mostly focusing on technical, economical, and safety perspectives. Nowadays, the society devotes an ever-increased effort to the construction sector regarding their environmental performance. However, considering the complexity of the environmental problems and the diverse character of bridges, the related research for bridge as a whole system is very rare. Most existing studies were only conducted for a single indicator, part of the structure components, or a specific life stage. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is an internationally standardized method for quantifying the environmental impact of a product, asset, or service throughout its whole life cycle. However, in the construction sector, LCA is usually applied in the procurement of buildings, but not bridges as yet. This paper presents a comprehensive LCA framework for road bridges, complied with LCA ReCiPe (H) methodology. The framework enables identification of the key structural components and life cycle stages of bridges, followed by aggregation of the environmental impacts into monetary values. The utility of the framework is illustrated by a practical case study comparing five designs for the Karlsnas Bridge in Sweden, which is currently under construction. This paper comprehensively analyzed 20 types of environmental indicators among five proposed bridge designs, which remedies the absence of full spectrum of environmental indicators in the current state of the art. The results show that the monetary weighting system and uncertainties in key variables such as the steel recycling rate and cement content may highly affect the LCA outcome. The materials, structural elements, and overall designs also have varying influences in different impact categories. The result can be largely affected by the system boundaries, surrounding environment, input uncertainties, considered impact indicators, and the weighting systems applied; thus, no general conclusions can be drawn without specifying such issues. Robustly evaluating and ranking the environmental impact of various bridge designs is far from straightforward. This paper is an important attempt to evaluate various designs from full dimensions. The results show that the indicators and weighting systems must be clearly specified to be applicable in a transparent procurement. This paper provides vital knowledge guiding the decision maker to select the most LCA-feasible proposal and mitigate the environmental burden in the early stage.

Keyword
Sustainable construction, Life cycle assessment, LCA, LCA for bridges, Global warming, Bridge, Carbon footprint, Environment, CO2 emission
National Category
Environmental Management Infrastructure Engineering Construction Management Environmental Analysis and Construction Information Technology
Research subject
Civil and Architectural Engineering; Järnvägsgruppen - Infrastruktur
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-142919 (URN)10.1007/s11367-014-0797-z (DOI)000344785900005 ()2-s2.0-84922073703 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20141215

Available from: 2014-03-13 Created: 2014-03-13 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
5. Holistic Approach to Sustainable Bridge Procurement Considering LCC, LCA, Lifespan, User-Cost and Aesthetics: Case Study
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Holistic Approach to Sustainable Bridge Procurement Considering LCC, LCA, Lifespan, User-Cost and Aesthetics: Case Study
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

An efficient procurement method is the primary initiator of sustainablebridge infrastructures. Several proposals could provide technically feasiblesolutions for a bridge in a certain location, all of which may provide therequired function, but differ substantially in life-cycle cost (LCC), servicelife-span, user-cost, aesthetic merit and environmental impact. A newparameter, LCC Added-Value, has been recently developed to facilitateprocurement of the most LCC-efficient alternative through fair design-build(D-B) tendering. However, integration of environmental, aesthetic and user-costconsiderations in bridge procurement decisions is also required. This paperintroduces a holistic procurement approach designed to enable procurement ofthe most sustainable (lifecycle-efficient) bridge under D-B contracts. Theapproach combines LCC Added-Value analysis with other novel techniques thatmake proposals’ aesthetic merit and environmental impact commensurable, therebyenabling agencies to establish monetary benchmarks concerning those aspects inan early planning phase and embed them in the tender documents as corespecifications. The lowest net equivalent LCC bid could then be used as thecontract award criterion. A presented case study illustrates the practicalimplementation of the approach, addresses roles of both contractors andagencies in it, provides insights into the various bridge aspects and identifiesshortcomings requiring further attention.

Keyword
Bridge, Procurement, Life Cycle Cost Analysis, Life Cycle Assessment, Sustainable, User Cost, Aesthetic, Contract, Tender, Repair, LCC, LCA.
National Category
Civil Engineering Environmental Engineering Environmental Biotechnology Industrial Biotechnology Agricultural Sciences
Research subject
Järnvägsgruppen - Infrastruktur; SRA - Production; SRA - Transport; The KTH Railway Group - Tribology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-133233 (URN)
Note

QS 2013

Available from: 2013-10-29 Created: 2013-10-29 Last updated: 2015-03-11Bibliographically approved
6. Life cycle environmental impact of two commonly used short span bridges in Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Life cycle environmental impact of two commonly used short span bridges in Sweden
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In a bridge project, several alternative designs can be functionally equivalent for the designated location. The environmental concern urges today’s designers to explore the new design options to mitigate the associated environmental burdens. When comparing to the concrete slab frame bridges, the soil-steel flexible culverts show advantages in ease erection, low maintenance as well as the competitive cost. However, its environmental performance has never been studied. This paper compared the environmental performance of these two bridge types through the whole life cycle from cradle to grave, based on 8 real cases in Sweden. Unlike the previous studies that only looked at few indicators, this paper comprehensively covered eleven sets of mid-point indicators, cumulative energy demand (CED) as well as the associated cost. The construction phase is a specific focus in this paper. The results indicate that the environmental performance of a bridge is linked closely with the bridge type selection, as well as governed by multiple indicators in the environmental domain. 

National Category
Civil Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-159583 (URN)
Note

Sustainable construction; Life cycle assessment; LCA; LCA for bridges; Global warming; Bridge; Carbon footprint; CO2 emissions. 

QC 20160608

Available from: 2015-02-04 Created: 2015-02-04 Last updated: 2016-06-08Bibliographically approved

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