Factors for Eco-Efficiency Improvement of Thermal Insulation Materials
Journal article, 2016
Thermal insulation material is an important component to reduce the environmental impact of buildings through the reduction of energy consumption in the operation phase. However, the material itself has embodied environmental impacts for the value it provides. Eco-efficiency is a method that quantifies relation between the environmental performance and the created value of a product system. This study investigated contributing factors of the eco-efficiency of thermal insulation materials to support decision making of material manufacturers. For the improvement of eco-efficiency, the assessment was made in two scopes: investigating the contributing factors of impact caused at production processes; and thermal performance through thermo-physical properties. For quantifying environmental impacts, cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment (LCA) of each materials were made. The life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) indicators used were ReCiPe H/A and global warming potential (GWP100a). For the assessment of production process, the inventories of the materials were assigned to six categories: heat, chemicals, electricity, transportation, raw materials and wastes. Among the assessed materials, contribution of electricity and heat within the production process was large for foam glass which had the highest potential to improve the eco-efficiency which was by factor 1.72. The analysis on relation between thermo-physical properties and eco-efficiency based on product data of the materials highlighted the importance of density as an indicator upon development and use. Although density often gains less attention, the finding suggested the effectiveness of improving the efficiency by having lower density without compensating the performance of the materials.
Life Cycle Impact Assessment