Residential buildings consume significant amounts of
energy and produce large amount of emissions and waste. However,
there is a substantial potential for energy savings in this sector which
needs to be evaluated over the life cycle of residential buildings. Life
Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology has been employed to study
the primary energy uses and associated environmental impacts of
different phases (i.e., product, construction, use, end of life, and
beyond building life) for residential buildings. Four different
alternatives of residential buildings in Vancouver (BC, Canada) with
a 50-year lifespan have been evaluated, including High Rise
Apartment (HRA), Low Rise Apartment (LRA), Single family
Attached House (SAH), and Single family Detached House (SDH).
Life cycle performance of the buildings is evaluated for embodied
energy, embodied environmental impacts, operational energy,
operational environmental impacts, total life-cycle energy, and total
life cycle environmental impacts. Estimation of operational energy
and LCA are performed using DesignBuilder software and Athena
Impact estimator software respectively.
The study results revealed that over the life span of the buildings,
the relationship between the energy use and the environmental
impacts are identical. LRA is found to be the best alternative in terms
of embodied energy use and embodied environmental impacts; while,
HRA showed the best life-cycle performance in terms of minimum
energy use and environmental impacts. Sensitivity analysis has also
been carried out to study the influence of building service lifespan
over 50, 75, and 100 years on the relative significance of embodied
energy and total life cycle energy. The life-cycle energy requirements
for SDH are found to be a significant component among the four
types of residential buildings. The overall disclose that the primary
operations of these buildings accounts for 90% of the total life cycle
energy which far outweighs minor differences in embodied effects
between the buildings.
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