This paper implements a Life Cycle Assessment of several low-energy/passive house buildings located in Northern Ireland. This work aims (i) to assess the environmental performance of the buildings and (ii) to evaluate the effect of electricity decarbonization on the dwellings’ global warming potential (GWP). Three different future electricity mix scenarios have been used and compared to a static scenario where the current electricity mix remains constant. The LCA results of the static scenario reveal that applying passive-house standards could reduce the impact of dwellings while it does not necessarily provide a positive environmental outcome. The building operation phase contributed the most to the environmental impact, while negligible impact comes from the end-of-life stage. The electricity decarbonization leads to a significant reduction of GWP in all cases, with the highest value achieved for the passive house using the highest share of electricity, 58%-70% GWP reduction compared to the static scenario. Moreover, electricity decarbonization increases the relative share of the production stage to the overall building emission. Therefore, close attention should be paid to construction material selection in any effort aiming to achieve further environmental benefits. The buildings' environmental and operational energy performances were also compared to the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge.
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The authors would like to thank Eng. Laurent Aupetit Bjerre of NILAN company for providing the documentation about the different heating and ventilation system. The authors would like to acknowledge financial support from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness RTI2018-093849-B-C33 (MCIU/AEI/FEDER, UE) and thank the Catalan Government (2017-SGR-1409). This work is partially funded by the Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades – Agencia Estatal de Investigación (AEI) (RED2018-102431-T).
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- Electricity mix
- Energy-efficient building
- Environmental impacts
- Life cycle assessment
- Renewable energy