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Keywords:

  • building energy use;
  • carbon dioxide (CO2);
  • energy consumption;
  • green buildings;
  • industrial ecology;
  • life cycle assessment (LCA)

Summary

This study is based on the three types of residential buildings with framework structures in Beijing: concrete framework construction (CFC), light-gauge steel framework construction (SFC), and wood framework construction (WFC). The analysis of the environmental load across the life cycle of the three types of buildings is conducted using life cycle assessment (LCA) according to the protocols of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14040/44. The functional unit is the three material building designs, which possess the same function and design plan, and are built in concrete, light-gauge steel, and light frame wood, inclusive of their respective envelope materials. Throughout the investigation, the calculations of the environmental load data of materials, energy consumption, and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are comprehensively assessed and compared. The study shows that over the life cycle, the energy consumption of CFC is almost the same as that of SFC, and each of them is approximately 30% higher than that of WFC. Building use, steel material production, cement production, gypsum board production, and material transport are the main construction activities related to the energy consumption; the net CO2 emission of CFC is 44% higher than that of SFC and 49% higher than that of WFC. The main source of CO2 emission is the use of electricity; its contributions to the net CO2 emissions of WFC, SFC, and CFC are 67%, 64%, and 44%, respectively. The net CO2 emissions in the transport category cannot be ignored, with proportions amounting to 8%, 12%, and 11% for WFC, SFC, and CFC, respectively.