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Residential Life Cycle Assessment Modeling of Green Buildings and Building Products

Rajagopalan, Neethi (2011) Residential Life Cycle Assessment Modeling of Green Buildings and Building Products. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This research created a residential life cycle assessment (LCA) framework by comparing traditional wood home and a home built of a new building product called insulating concrete forms (ICF). This framework was utilized in analyzing the green building product labeling system and recommendations provided for improving the use of LCA in labeling of products. The framework case study results were evaluated for their potential for energy savings in the US. The national implications of using emerging and existing energy saving building products were quantitatively examined. This study quantitatively measured ICFs' performance through a comparative LCA of wall sections comprised of ICF and traditional wood-frame. The life cycle stages included raw materials extraction and manufacturing, construction, use and end of life for a 2,450 square foot house in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Results showed that although building products such as ICFs are energy intensive to produce and thus have higher environmental impacts in the raw materials extraction and manufacturing phase, the use phase dominated in the life cycle. A residential LCA framework was created as part of this study and was utilized in evaluating the green product labeling system for building products.This study compared generic and green-labeled carpets, paints and linoleum flooring using the Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES) LCA database. The results from these comparisons were not intuitive and were contradictory in several impact categories with respect to the greenness of the product. Life cycle thinking, in theory, has the potential to improve the environmental impacts of labeling systems but databases currently are lacking in detailed information about products or sometimes provide conflicting information.The residential LCA case study showed the energy saving potential of an ICF home. The energy savings achieved when building products such as ICFs, windows and doors were used in projected new residential constructions was evaluated. A combination of strategies involving the use of ICFs, windows and doors were studied and the results compared with targets set by the McKinsey and Company and Architecture 2030.When ICFs, windows and doors were used as energy saving building products, the results showed that they might not be saving as much energy as expected and implementing each energy saving strategy on its own was not a solution to achieve the energy goals of the McKinsey report and Architecture 2030. A combination of strategies was the key to reaching end points set by the standards.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Rajagopalan, Neethiner8@pitt.eduNER8
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBilec, Melissambilec@pitt.eduMBILEC
Committee MemberLandis, Amyael30@pitt.eduAEL30
Committee MemberMarriott, Joemarriott@pitt.eduMARRIOTT
Committee MemberNeedy,
Committee MemberVidic, Radisavvidic@pitt.eduVIDIC
Date: 27 June 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 1 March 2011
Approval Date: 27 June 2011
Submission Date: 5 March 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: building products; buildings; energy; environmental impacts; life cycle assessmen
Other ID:, etd-03052011-095657
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:32
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:36


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