Date of Award

5-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Civil Engineering

Advisor

Klotz, Leidy E

Committee Member

Bell , Lansford

Committee Member

Putman , Brad

Committee Member

Templeton , Scott

Abstract

Hazard resistant building materials are not adequately represented by current LCA approaches, which do not account for environmental benefits of the avoided losses (e.g. avoided waste, avoided materials for repairs) promised by hazard resistant materials. The goal of this study was to encourage a more complete understanding of materials' environmental impacts by developing a framework to include hazard related damages in LCA.
Catastrophe modeling is a well-developed tool used by the insurance industry to assess the probability of hazard and quantify related impacts. These models were studied to identify required input data as well as the format of output results. The input and results from the catastrophe models were then compared with the required input and results for prominent software tools used in ISO 14040 compliant LCAs. Through this comparison, an approach was identified for incorporating the catastrophe modeling results into LCAs for building materials.
A hazard related damage inclusive LCA, H-LCA, was developed to combine data sets from catastrophe models and LCA. Two LCAs were performed in each of three case studies, one for the home with the hazard resistant material, and one for the traditionally constructed home. The results were compared to determine the differences in environmental impacts between the model with the hazard resistant feature and the standard model. Using catastrophe modeling data on the homes, average annual economic losses were calculated, and using an EIO-LCA tool, converted to impact assessment results. These hazard related impact assessment results were combined with the LCA data to create a more accurate representation of the environmental impacts of hazard resistant building materials. A description of each step of the method is presented along with the results of three case studies. In two of the three case studies, the environmental benefits of the avoided losses outweigh the additional environmental impacts of manufacturing/installation. In the third case, the hazard resistant product was more energy efficient than its standard counterpart, and the environmental benefits of the avoided losses combined with its energy efficient properties outweigh the additional environmental impacts of manufacturing/installation. Sensitivity analyses were performed to determine the effects of varying service life of the home and to determine the effects of environmentally discounting the data. It was noted that as the service life of the home increased, the environmental net benefit of the hazard resistant product increased in comparison with the total environmental impacts of the home. Also, as the discount rate increases, the net benefit of the hazard resistant product decreases in comparison with the total environmental impacts of the home.
The H-LCA framework advances understanding of the environmental impacts of hazard resistant building materials. Using the framework in LCA will facilitate more accurate comparisons between hazard resistant materials and their traditional counterparts.

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