Adapting existing life cycle inventory of building products for the Brazilian context

Abstract:

The construction sector is responsible of several environmental impact among which energy and water consumption, climate change and waste generation. For instance, the primary energy consumption for regulatory uses (heating, air conditioning, ventilation and hot water) on a 50-year period for a French building is about the same as the embodied energy for its manufacturing and construction processes. In this context, new assessment tools are required to assess the global environmental performance. Thus, there is a growing need to assess the environmental performance of building by means of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Databases are also needed to make available Life Cycle Inventory data of building materials and processes for each national context. However, in Brazil, few data been provided so far by the building industry e.g. by means of Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). Two solutions can be distinguished: development a new national LCI database. If the first option is the most relevant, it requires times and resources, while the second solution is scientifically acceptable and practicable. The aim of this paper is to present and approach to adapt existing LCI data of building products for the Brazilian context in order to propose a set of consistent and representative LCI datasets. The approach is based on literature researches, analyses of Brazilian and generic LCI data and on the adaptation of European LCI data for the Brazilian context for some key parameters e.g. the energy mixes, the types and distances of transportation. The feasibility of the methodology is then supported by case studies comparing the environmental indicators of concrete, considering the use of Brazilian, original and adapted LCI data. The approach can be easily applied to other building products. The comparisons show the weaknesses of some Brazilian data e.g. in terms of completeness of the system boundaries. The results for primary energy and global warming potential show that the adapted LCI data is found to have less impact than the indicators calculated with the original LCI (differences between 5 and 10%). This is mainly explained by the efficiency of the Brazilian energy mix despite the large consumption of the non-renewable energy due to the type and distance of transportation. The adapted LCI must now be improved e.g. by working closely with Brazilian producers to get more accurate data on the foreground processes.


Reference:
OLIVEIRA, Luciana Alves de; LASVAUX, Sébastian; HOXHA, Endrit; HANS, Julien. Adapting existing life cycle inventory of building products for the Brazilian context. In: INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE SUSTAINABLE BUILDINGS: CONSTRUCTION PRODUCTS AND TECHNOLOGIES, 2013, Austria. Proceedings… Austria: Graz University of Technology, Institute of Technology and Testing of Building Materials; AEE, 2013. p.426-436.


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