Life Cycle Assessments of Alternative Materials

Requested Research

  • Main request 1. Life cycle assessments of alternative building materials and techniques, such as natural materials and recyclables, and how they compare to the more generally used materials such as bricks, concrete, steel and glass.
  • Main request 2. Carbon footprints of alternative building materials and techniques, such as natural materials and recyclables, and how they compare to the more generally used materials.
  • Literature overview of the theory behind life cycle assessments, as well as about carbon footprinting. Then distilling the basics and parameters that are needed to make any life cycle assessment.
  • Within both overall assessments, we have special interest in the recycling part. For instance, how to classify a system that makes use of recycled materials in the first place? Or, do recycled materials have a lower carbon footprint since the material has already been used before?

Status of Research

Open for students and professionals of Architecture, Architectural Engineering and Building Science. Send us an email to request the full assignment sheet via this link.

Background: Life Cycle Assessment

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a tool to assess the environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product’s life; from the very beginning until the very end. It looks at the complete cycle from raw material extraction, through materials processing, manufacturing, distribution, using the product, repair and maintenance, and disposal or recycling. You can do an LCA on an organization, project, service or product; the latter being the most common.

An ecologically based LCA has a specific focus on the broader range of ecological impacts. It is designed to provide a guide to wise management of human activities by understanding the direct and indirect impacts on ecological resources and surrounding ecosystems.

This assignment is most interested in the life cycle assessments of any alternative material or technique, such as natural materials and recyclables, and how they compare to the more generally used materials.

Background: Carbon Footprint

Carbon footprinting, also known as a greenhouse gas emissions assessment, analyzes the direct emissions of gases into the atmosphere, caused by an organization, event, product or person. Greenhouse gases such as carbon, methane, and sulfurhexafluoride, contribute to global warming and climate change.

A carbon footprint, or embodied carbon assessment, is a sub-set of the life cycle assessment. Whereas LCA looks at a wide range of environmental impacts associated with the product, a carbon footprint covers just the greenhouse gas emissions and therefore the outcome can be quantified as one single value.

We can determine the carbon footprint of a material or product, by evaluating the total of emissions associated with the entire life cycle. We are specifically interested in the carbon footprint of alternative materials and recyclables. From mining raw materials, through the various stages of processing and transportation involved in getting the finished product to the site, and then on to final use and disposal.

Loading
Made by 150dpi