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Impact of Product Lifetime on Life Cycle Assessment Results

Aktas, Can Baran (2011) Impact of Product Lifetime on Life Cycle Assessment Results. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Global material consumption and related environmental impacts has exceeded the carrying capacity of ecosystems by the end of the 20th century. Significant improvements in materials design and manufacturing are necessary to reverse the unsustainable trend. Construction industry, being one of the most important industries for most nations, is responsible for a notable portion of materials consumption and environmental impacts. Significant improvements are possible through implementing innovative ideas and products in this sector.Life cycle assessment can be used to quantify environmental impacts of products and processes. However, many life cycle assessment (LCA) studies do not adequately address the actual lifetime of buildings and building products. The goal of this study was to improve the LCA method by quantifying the impact of lifetime on residential buildings and building products. Including accurate lifetime data into LCA allows a better understanding of a product's environmental impact that would ultimately enhance the accuracy of LCA results.Problems with lifetime were identified during an LCA study for a green composite. The issue of lifetime was then investigated at a broader level in residential buildings and building products. The U.S. residential building lifetime as well as lifetime of commonly applied interior finishes has been refined to improve LCA results. Existing data on lifetime and product emissions were synthesized to form statistical distributions that were used instead of deterministic values. A Monte Carlo analysis was performed for uncertainty analysis. Sensitivity analysis results were used to identify hotspots within the LCA results. Results indicate that choosing an arbitrary lifetime for buildings and interior finishes introduces a noteworthy amount of error into residential building LCA.Methods to estimate service life of building products have been investigated. A systematic, hybrid method for service life prediction that combines both technical and social factors by a statistical approach was proposed. Example service life estimates were demonstrated for common residential interior finishes that are replaced more frequently, and therefore require more maintenance planning and potentially have significant environmental impacts.Recommendations were made regarding strategies to reduce environmental impacts of interior finishes through reducing the disparity between design and actual lifetime. Existing environmental design strategies and policies have been reviewed, and specific suggestions for interior finishes have been proposed.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Aktas, Can Barancba5@pitt.eduCBA5
Date: 27 June 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 16 March 2011
Approval Date: 27 June 2011
Submission Date: 18 February 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Civil and Environmental Engineering
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: interior finish; life cycle assessment; lifetime; service life; service life prediction; design life; residential building
Other ID:, etd-02182011-115047
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:31
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:36


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