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Environmental Performance Measures to Assess Sustainable Construction from a Life Cycle Perspective

PhD project Building LCA is often perceived as being complicated and the results difficult to interpret. The project focus on utilizing familiar performance measures to assess environmental and economic performance of investments in building construction and refurbishment.

Helena Nydahl is a PhD student within the Industrial Doctoral School for Research and Innovation at Umeå University.

Head of project

Helena Nydahl
Postgraduate student
E-mail
Email

Project overview

Project period

2017-09-01 2021-05-31

Funding

50  percent the Industrial Doctoral School for Research and Innovation at Umeå University.
50 percent AB Bostaden

Research subject

Building technology, Energy engineering

Project description

Energy use in buildings and for building construction represents roughly one-third of global final energy consumption and contributes to nearly one-quarter of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions worldwide. The building sector offers the largest cost-effective energy and GHG mitigation potential through implementation of energy efficiency technologies, policies and building designs.

Together with the external partner, AB Bostaden, we are contributing to their important participation in the Swedish Association of Public Housing Companies Climate Initiative to be fossil free until 2030 and reduce energy use by 30 %. In this work, we are applying a transdisciplinary approach together with the Umeå School of Business, Economics and Statistics and the PhD student Sofia Långström.

This research project aims to simplify the interpretation and understanding of LCA result and enable formulation of goals that correspond international, national and local sustainability objectives. Because several scientific studies question current design methods for energy refurbishment and new constructions and highlights the importance of applying a life cycle perspective to the planning and implementation of energy efficiency technology. There is a wide range of ongoing research on building Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and efforts are made to introduce LCA as a design tool within the Residential and Service sector. However, the tools are rarely used because it is often perceived as being complicated and the results difficult to interpret.

In this research project, traditional economic performance tools, that are familiar to the Residential and Service sector, are utilized to assess the environmental performance of building construction and refurbishment from a life cycle perspective. The environmental performance measures include Return on Investment (ROI) and Annual Yield (AY) and can be used to quantify and describe energy, GHG emissions and economic performance.