Environmental impact of building materials

Research output: Book/ReportReportProfessional

Abstract

Methods used for assessing the environmental impact of products comprise "life-cycle assessments" (LCAs) designed to provide information on all the significant environmental effects of products from raw-material extraction and manufacture to end-use and final disposal. The environmental impact of a product is often expressed in terms of an environmental "profile" indicating how the product contributes to changes in the environment, such as global warming or acidification. Research into the environmental impact of building materials and the methods for its evaluation has been carried out at VTT Building Technology Institute. This report discusses the principles and problems of LCA and suggests guidelines for evaluating the environmental impact of building materials. The guidelines are based on the LCA procedure suggested by SETAC. At least the following can be identified as special characteristics or problems in the LCA of building materials: Service life is usually long compared with ordinary consumer goods. The basic materials of building products such as rocky and clay materials, timber and gypsum are largely available. More important than the consumed materials is the means of removal and disposal. A considerable percentage of raw materials can be substituted by waste or co-products. At the same time, large amounts of co-products or re-usable waste of low value are generated in the course of production compared with the quantity of primary product. Thus the principles of allocating environmental burdens significantly affect the results of LCA. Selection of a well-defined functional unit in a building is complicated. Environmental impacts of wooden structural parts in house constructions were studied as a pattern. The environmental profile was calculated and compared with that of heating a small house. Structural timber, roof truss and cladding boards were studied separately. The effects of system boundary and limitations on the results were investigated. The dominate parts in the life span of wooden products were discussed from an environmental point of view.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationEspoo
PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
Number of pages39
ISBN (Print)951-38-4705-5
Publication statusPublished - 1994
MoE publication typeNot Eligible

Publication series

NameVTT Tiedotteita - Meddelanden - Research Notes
PublisherVTT
No.1590
ISSN (Print)1235-0605
ISSN (Electronic)1455-0865

Fingerprint

environmental impact
life cycle
timber
product
environmental effect
gypsum
acidification
roof
global warming
heating
clay
material

Keywords

  • construction materials
  • building components
  • environmental effects
  • environmental surveys
  • life cycles
  • evaluation
  • methods
  • service life
  • life (durability)
  • instructions
  • removal
  • disposal
  • reuse
  • wooden structures

Cite this

Häkkinen, T. (1994). Environmental impact of building materials. Espoo: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. VTT Tiedotteita - Meddelanden - Research Notes, No. 1590
Häkkinen, Tarja. / Environmental impact of building materials. Espoo : VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, 1994. 39 p. (VTT Tiedotteita - Meddelanden - Research Notes; No. 1590).
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Häkkinen, T 1994, Environmental impact of building materials. VTT Tiedotteita - Meddelanden - Research Notes, no. 1590, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Espoo.

Environmental impact of building materials. / Häkkinen, Tarja.

Espoo : VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, 1994. 39 p. (VTT Tiedotteita - Meddelanden - Research Notes; No. 1590).

Research output: Book/ReportReportProfessional

TY - BOOK

T1 - Environmental impact of building materials

AU - Häkkinen, Tarja

PY - 1994

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N2 - Methods used for assessing the environmental impact of products comprise "life-cycle assessments" (LCAs) designed to provide information on all the significant environmental effects of products from raw-material extraction and manufacture to end-use and final disposal. The environmental impact of a product is often expressed in terms of an environmental "profile" indicating how the product contributes to changes in the environment, such as global warming or acidification. Research into the environmental impact of building materials and the methods for its evaluation has been carried out at VTT Building Technology Institute. This report discusses the principles and problems of LCA and suggests guidelines for evaluating the environmental impact of building materials. The guidelines are based on the LCA procedure suggested by SETAC. At least the following can be identified as special characteristics or problems in the LCA of building materials: Service life is usually long compared with ordinary consumer goods. The basic materials of building products such as rocky and clay materials, timber and gypsum are largely available. More important than the consumed materials is the means of removal and disposal. A considerable percentage of raw materials can be substituted by waste or co-products. At the same time, large amounts of co-products or re-usable waste of low value are generated in the course of production compared with the quantity of primary product. Thus the principles of allocating environmental burdens significantly affect the results of LCA. Selection of a well-defined functional unit in a building is complicated. Environmental impacts of wooden structural parts in house constructions were studied as a pattern. The environmental profile was calculated and compared with that of heating a small house. Structural timber, roof truss and cladding boards were studied separately. The effects of system boundary and limitations on the results were investigated. The dominate parts in the life span of wooden products were discussed from an environmental point of view.

AB - Methods used for assessing the environmental impact of products comprise "life-cycle assessments" (LCAs) designed to provide information on all the significant environmental effects of products from raw-material extraction and manufacture to end-use and final disposal. The environmental impact of a product is often expressed in terms of an environmental "profile" indicating how the product contributes to changes in the environment, such as global warming or acidification. Research into the environmental impact of building materials and the methods for its evaluation has been carried out at VTT Building Technology Institute. This report discusses the principles and problems of LCA and suggests guidelines for evaluating the environmental impact of building materials. The guidelines are based on the LCA procedure suggested by SETAC. At least the following can be identified as special characteristics or problems in the LCA of building materials: Service life is usually long compared with ordinary consumer goods. The basic materials of building products such as rocky and clay materials, timber and gypsum are largely available. More important than the consumed materials is the means of removal and disposal. A considerable percentage of raw materials can be substituted by waste or co-products. At the same time, large amounts of co-products or re-usable waste of low value are generated in the course of production compared with the quantity of primary product. Thus the principles of allocating environmental burdens significantly affect the results of LCA. Selection of a well-defined functional unit in a building is complicated. Environmental impacts of wooden structural parts in house constructions were studied as a pattern. The environmental profile was calculated and compared with that of heating a small house. Structural timber, roof truss and cladding boards were studied separately. The effects of system boundary and limitations on the results were investigated. The dominate parts in the life span of wooden products were discussed from an environmental point of view.

KW - construction materials

KW - building components

KW - environmental effects

KW - environmental surveys

KW - life cycles

KW - evaluation

KW - methods

KW - service life

KW - life (durability)

KW - instructions

KW - removal

KW - disposal

KW - reuse

KW - wooden structures

M3 - Report

SN - 951-38-4705-5

T3 - VTT Tiedotteita - Meddelanden - Research Notes

BT - Environmental impact of building materials

PB - VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

CY - Espoo

ER -

Häkkinen T. Environmental impact of building materials. Espoo: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, 1994. 39 p. (VTT Tiedotteita - Meddelanden - Research Notes; No. 1590).