Full life cycle assessment of a cross laminated timber modular building in Sweden

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för byggteknik (BY)

Abstract: Building industry contributes to massive amounts of harmful emissions. This trend will continue to rise unless appropriate measures are taken. This master thesis aims to calculate the environmental impact during the whole life time of a prefabricated cross-laminated timber (CLT) modular building. The environmental impacts from the end-of-life stage and the benefit of the most of the building material beyond the system boundary is also included. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is used as a tool to assess the environmental impacts following the standard SS-EN 15978:2011. Since there is a lack of environmental data about CLT in general and about prefabricated CLT volumetric modules buildings in particular the results from this work will enhance the understanding of the environmental performance of this kind of building system. This work is done with Size AB, a company that only produces CLT modular multi-storeys buildings.  The studied object is three storeys building located in Nykvarn in Sweden. The total emissions during the building life cycle are at least 377 kg CO2-eq/m2 of the gross floor area (GFA), 0,296 kg PO43--eq/m2 of GFA and 1,1 kg SO2-eq/m2 of GFA for global warming potential (GWP), eutrophication potential (EP) and acidification potential (AP) respectively. The result shows that the share of the AP and EP during the end-of-life stage is only 1% for each, whereas CO2-eq emission is accounted for 14% during this stage. The material production stage accounts for more than 50% for all environmental indicators.  This study provides fundamental data to perform LCAs in this area and to carry out climate declarations. Through sensitivity analysis it was discovered inter alia that high production intensity in the modules fabrication factory plays a significant role in reducing the environmental impacts during the construction stage. It was also found that modification of the LCA’s system boundary is recommended to present a transparent LCA of modular buildings. 

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