Life-cycle assessment of alternative envelope construction for a new house in south-western Europe: embodied and operational magnitude
Author(s)Monteiro, Helena; Freire, Fausto; Fernandez, John
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The building envelope is critical to reducing operational energy in residential buildings. Under moderate climates, as in South-Western Europe (Portugal), thermal operational energy may be substantially reduced with an adequate building envelope selection at the design stage; therefore, it is crucial to assess the trade-offs between operational and embodied impacts. In this work, the environmental influence of building envelope construction with varying thermal performance were assessed for a South-Western European house under two operational patterns using life-cycle assessment (LCA) methodology. Five insulation thickness levels (0–12 cm), four total ventilation levels (0.3–1.2 ac/h), three exterior wall alternatives (double brick, concrete, and wood walls), and six insulation materials were studied. Insulation thickness tipping-points were identified for alternative operational patterns and wall envelopes, considering six environmental impact categories. Life-cycle results show that, under a South-Western European climate, the embodied impacts represent twice the operational impact of a new Portuguese house. Insulation played an important role. However, increasing it beyond the tipping-point is counterproductive. Lowering ventilation levels and adopting wood walls reduced the house life-cycle impacts. Cork was the insulation material with the lowest impact. Thus, under a moderate climate, priority should be given to using LCA to select envelope solutions.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Building Technology Program
Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
Monteiro, Helena, Fausto Freire, and John E. Fernandez. "Life-cycle assessment of alternative envelope construction for a new house in south-western Europe: embodied and operational magnitude." Energies 13, 16 (August 2020): 4145 ©2020 Author(s)
Final published version