Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 31743
Life Cycle Assessment of Residential Buildings: A Case Study in Canada

Authors: Venkatesh Kumar, Kasun Hewage, Rehan Sadiq


Residential buildings consume significant amounts of energy and produce large amount of emissions and waste. However, there is a substantial potential for energy savings in this sector which needs to be evaluated over the life cycle of residential buildings. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology has been employed to study the primary energy uses and associated environmental impacts of different phases (i.e., product, construction, use, end of life, and beyond building life) for residential buildings. Four different alternatives of residential buildings in Vancouver (BC, Canada) with a 50-year lifespan have been evaluated, including High Rise Apartment (HRA), Low Rise Apartment (LRA), Single family Attached House (SAH), and Single family Detached House (SDH). Life cycle performance of the buildings is evaluated for embodied energy, embodied environmental impacts, operational energy, operational environmental impacts, total life-cycle energy, and total life cycle environmental impacts. Estimation of operational energy and LCA are performed using DesignBuilder software and Athena Impact estimator software respectively. The study results revealed that over the life span of the buildings, the relationship between the energy use and the environmental impacts are identical. LRA is found to be the best alternative in terms of embodied energy use and embodied environmental impacts; while, HRA showed the best life-cycle performance in terms of minimum energy use and environmental impacts. Sensitivity analysis has also been carried out to study the influence of building service lifespan over 50, 75, and 100 years on the relative significance of embodied energy and total life cycle energy. The life-cycle energy requirements for SDH are found to be a significant component among the four types of residential buildings. The overall disclose that the primary operations of these buildings accounts for 90% of the total life cycle energy which far outweighs minor differences in embodied effects between the buildings.

Keywords: Building simulation, environmental impacts, life cycle assessment, life cycle energy analysis, residential buildings.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

Procedia APA BibTeX Chicago EndNote Harvard JSON MLA RIS XML ISO 690 PDF Downloads 4398


[1] R. M. Cuéllar-Franca and A. Azapagic, “Environmental impacts of the UK residential sector: Life cycle assessment of houses,” Build. Environ. vol. 54, pp. 86–99, 2012.
[2] K. Van Ooteghem and L. Xu, “The life-cycle assessment of a singlestorey retail building in Canada,” Build. Environ. vol. 49, pp. 212–226, Mar. 2012.
[3] A. Ganjidoost and S. Alkass, “Environmental Life Cycle Analysis of Office Buildings in Canada,” Int. J. Eng. Technol., vol. 4, no. 5, pp. 602–606, 2012.
[4] M. Asif, T. Muneer, and R. Kelley, “Life cycle assessment: A case study of a dwelling home in Scotland,” Build. Environ. vol. 42, no. 3, pp. 1391–1394, Mar. 2007.
[5] K. Adalberth, “Energy use during the life cycle of buildings: a method,” Build. Environ. vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 317–320, Jul. 1997.
[6] K. Adalberth, “Energy use during the life cycle of single-unit dwellings: Examples,” Build. Environ. vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 321–329, Jul. 1997.
[7] J. Basbagill, F. Flager, M. Lepech, and M. Fischer, “Application of lifecycle assessment to early stage building design for reduced embodied environmental impacts,” Build. Environ. vol. 60, pp. 81–92, Feb. 2013.
[8] J. Norman, J. Norman, H. L. MacLean, H. L. MacLean, C. a. Kennedy, and C. a. Kennedy, “Comparing High and Low Residential Density: Life-Cycle Analysis of Energy Use and Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” J. Urban Plan. Dev., vol. 132, no. 1, p. 10, 2006.
[9] W. Zhang, S. Tan, Y. Lei, and S. Wang, “Life cycle assessment of a single-family residential building in Canada: A case study,” Build. Simul., vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 429–438, 2014.
[10] B. Reza, R. Sadiq, and K. Hewage, “Emergy-based life cycle assessment (Em-LCA) of multi-unit and single-family residential buildings in Canada,” Int. J. Sustain. Built Environ. vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 207–224, Oct. 2014.
[11] I. O. for S. ISO 14040, “Environmental management: life cycle assessment. Principles and framework,” 2006.
[12] I. O. for S. ISO 14041, “ISO 14041 Environmental management — Life cycle assessment — Goal and scope definition and inventory analysis,” 1998.
[13] I. O. for S. ISO 14042, “ISO 14042 Environmental management - Life cycle assessment - Life cycle impact assessment,” 2000.
[14] I. O. for S. ISO 14043, “ISO 14043 Environmental management — Life cycle assessment — Life cycle interpretation,” 2000.
[15] A. I. E. AIE, “Athena Impact Estimator for Buildings and the Athena EcoCalculator for Assemblies,”, 2015. .
[16] H. Baumann and A.-M. Tillman, The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to LCA. 2004.
[17] O. S. Asfour and E. S. Alshawaf, “Effect of housing density on energy efficiency of buildings located in hot climates,” Energy Build., vol. 91, pp. 131–138, Mar. 2015.
[18] I. O. for S. ISO 14044, “ISC 14044: Environmental Management — Life Cycle Assessment— Requirements and Guidelines,” 2006.
[19] S. L. Hsu, “Life Cycle Assessment of Materials and Construction in Commercial Structures : Variability and Limitations,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 2010.
[20] X. Li, F. Yang, Y. Zhu, and Y. Gao, “An assessment framework for analyzing the embodied carbon impacts of residential buildings in China,” Energy Build., vol. 85, pp. 400–409, Dec. 2014.
[21] T. J. Wen, H. C. Siong, and Z. Z. Noor, “Assessment of Embodied Energy and Global Warming Potential of Building Construction using Life Cycle Analysis Approach: Case Studies of Residential Buildings in Iskandar Malaysia,” Energy Build., vol. 93, pp. 295–302, Dec. 2014.