Comparison of Life Cycle Assessment databases: A materials case study on wood construction

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School of Chemical Engineering | Master's thesis
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80 + [7]
An interest in environmental issues has been increasing. Life cycle assessment (LCA) has attracted considerable attention as a system for environmental assessment of human activity lately. In order to support the assessment, diverse simplified tools and databases have been developed internationally. However, dissimilarity of database has been debated continuously. Thus, the purpose of this study was to observe the differences of existing LCA databases on the purpose of building LCA and to research the possible reason for the differences. The selected five databases were compared in terms of "Greenhouse gas (GHG) emission" value by using three example buildings, two wooden buildings with different frame type and precast concrete framed building. GHG emission value was calculated for the production process of the building materials. The comparison was performed according to the three levels, building, building element, and building component level. The results revealed that the databases showed a similar trend in all assessment levels, but significant gap was found in the numerical value. In addition, it was found that the wooden buildings/products showed a larger dispersion between the databases than concrete one. In order to investigate the possible reason for this result, the databases were compared from several aspects mainly focusing on the wood products data. This study demonstrated that the ratio of biomass fuel use as the thermal energy resource is the main factor generating the significant differences between the databases in terms of GHG emission. Moreover, it was found that the handling of CO<sub>2</sub> emission from biomass fuel (biogenic CO<sub>2</sub>) varies depending on the database. Naturally, it seriously influences the LCA result. Therefore, the unification of methodology in terms of the handling of biogenic CO<sub>2</sub> emission and clear indication of energy profile used in the calculation are recommended to the development of LCA databases.
Kairi, Matti
Thesis advisor
Winter, Stefan
Kuittinen, Matti
Linkosalmi, Lauri
life cycle, assessment database, greenhouse gas
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