LCA as key factor for implementation of inertia in a low carbon performance driven design: the case of the smart living building in Fribourg, Switzerland
The building sector is known as a major contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy consumption. These impacts are commonly evaluated by life cycle assessment (LCA), which assess the potential impacts of a building from the construction to the end of life. LCA considers: the operating impacts (OI) occurring during the service life of buildings, and the embodied impacts (EI) occurring during the other lifecycle. Materials usually increase EI, but some of them, such the ones used for thermal inertia (TI), concur to energy efficiency and can reduce OI. This makes it difficult to understand the role of such materials in low carbon building strategies. The aim of this study is to understand how to weigh the overall environmental benefits of TI. Four building models were used to assess LCA with either low, medium, high or very high levels of TI. These are reached using materials characterized by different embodied impacts, such as concrete and earth. The difference with the low inertia case, taken as the base case, is evaluated for each model regarding OI and EI. The comparison between OI and EI determines which scenario brings the lowest impacts on LCA. To evaluate how the results are influenced by climate change, the analysis is made with two different scenarios: one with the typical meteorological year (TMY, Meteonorm) and the other with the weather conditions for 2050 (IPCC, International Panel on Climate Change). The paper shows a methodology to evaluate the effects of a design strategy on the LCA, applied to the case of TI. It demonstrates that TI is not very relevant in the frame of this case study because the EI related to the added materials is higher than the induced operating savings. Furthermore, it has been demonstrate that in the future when the carbon content of the energy may be lower, TI can change its effects and influence negatively the lifecycle environmental impacts.
Record created on 2016-01-08, modified on 2017-04-03