Article

Environmental impact comparison of a ventilated and a non-ventilated building-integrated photovoltaic rooftop design in the Netherlands: Electricity output, energy payback time, and land claim

Authors:
  • Zuyd University of Applied Sciences
  • RiBuilT research&consultancy
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Abstract

Building Integrated PV (BIPV) is considered as a key development for successful deployment of PV in the built environment. However, the effect of PV integration on environmental impact is not fully understood. In this study a single indicator for environmental impact assessment of BIPV is investigated in the Netherlands. A BIPV rooftop with 24 multi-crystalline 60-cell modules has been designed with and without backside ventilation, and the environmental impact of these configurations has been assessed in the current situation and three future scenarios. The results are expressed in terms of electricity output difference (ΔEout), Energy PayBack Time (EPBT), and the single indicator Land Claim (LC); the calculated claim in land-time on the carrying capacity to realize the BIPV rooftop. The EPBT calculations are based on two different datasets, SimaPro and the Inventory of Carbon and Energy (ICE), and the LC calculations are based on two different models, SimaPro and MAXergy. Calculations indicate that the ventilated BIPV rooftop design generates 2.6% more electricity than the non-ventilated BIPV rooftop design on a yearly basis. Calculations indicate that the EPBT of the ventilated BIPV rooftop design (3.56 and 4.59 years, based on SimaPro and ICE, respectively) is 9 and 6% longer than the EPBT of the non-ventilated BIPV rooftop design (3.25 and 4.32 years, based on SimaPro and ICE, respectively). Calculations indicate that the LC of a m² ventilated BIPV rooftop design (24.4 and 19.4 m² a, based on SimaPro and MAXergy, respectively) is 18 and 10% higher than the LC of a m² non-ventilated BIPV rooftop design (20.0 and 17.4 m² a, based on SimaPro and MAXergy, respectively). In the optimal future scenario EPBT might decrease to 2.06 years and LC might decrease to 10.6 m² a. This study indicates that the non-ventilated BIPV design shows a lower environmental impact in spite of a lower electric performance and that environmental impact can significantly be reduced in future scenarios.

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... Some studies have pointed out that the electrical performance of the BIPV systems can be influenced by many designs and installation parameters (orientation, slope of PV, internal gains), as well as by the PV module properties, including the module efficiency, shading effect, incident and azimuth angles, orientation, etc. (Cannavale et al., 2017;Zhang, Wang and Yang, 2018). Some researches investigate the effect of ventilation on PV electricity production, Gan concluded that an air gap in the range of 12-16 cm could improve reduce overheating and increase the PV electricity generation (Gan, 2009;Ritzen et al., 2017). Ritzen et al. compared the electrical performances of ventilated and non-ventilated PV rooftops in the Netherlands, based on the results, the power output of the ventilated PV rooftop was 2.5% higher than that of the non-ventilated type (Ritzen et al., 2017). ...
... Some researches investigate the effect of ventilation on PV electricity production, Gan concluded that an air gap in the range of 12-16 cm could improve reduce overheating and increase the PV electricity generation (Gan, 2009;Ritzen et al., 2017). Ritzen et al. compared the electrical performances of ventilated and non-ventilated PV rooftops in the Netherlands, based on the results, the power output of the ventilated PV rooftop was 2.5% higher than that of the non-ventilated type (Ritzen et al., 2017). Peng et al. experimentally investigated the thermal and power performances of a double-skin semitransparent PV (PV-DSF) façade under different ventilation modes, based on the tested results the electricity generation under the ventilated mode was more than that under the non-ventilated mode by 3%, in accordance with the lower operating temperature. ...
Thesis
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Nowadays, society is becoming increasingly conscious of the adverse effect of energy use on the environment, contributing to the depletion of fossil fuels and increasing global warming. Because of the substantial contribution of building energy to these concerns, the intention should be not only to improve building energy efficiency but also to promote the use of renewable technologies, especially solar energy. Today building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) and building-integrated solar thermal (BIST) technologies are recognized by building designers as innovative technology for clean energy and greenhouse gas reduction, especially in cities, where multi-story buildings are dominant with limited roof area. For the Mediterranean area, the high level of solar radiation and plentiful sunny hours make it appropriate for solar system installation, however, the development of solar energy is still limited. Moreover, due to the high population growth rate, lack of local resources, high energy price, and urbanization, one of the priorities in the Mediterranean area is to promote the energy efficiency of the building both on the supply side and demand side. Therefore, this research aims to investigate the potential of installation of the photovoltaic (PV) and solar thermal (ST) technologies in the new multi-family residential building envelope in the Mediterranean area, taking Amman, Jordan, as a case study. The focus of this research is on the typical multi-family residential buildings in Amman, as it is the city where about 50% of the new construction in Jordan is taking place, and the residential buildings are the major consumers of energy and electricity in Jordan. The multi-family buildings also form about 75% of the total housing stock in Jordan. The typical multi-family building studied here is composed of five main floors, contains ten residential apartments; the area of each apartment is 150 m2. It is assumed that the building is located in a common residential urbanized zone in Jordan, with 6 m sides offset and 8 m back offset, assuming that one side is facing the main street, and all the buildings have a maximum allowable height of 15 m. All the architectural parameters related to the multi-family buildings have been defined through analyzing the residential building stock in Jordan. In order to achieve the research aim, the possibility of reducing the energy demand of the typical multi-family building in Amman, Jordan, through passive and architectural design strategies was firstly investigated. After that, different performance criteria were evaluated, mainly quantitative criteria including energy consumption, energy production, and life cycle assessment (energy, carbon, cost). In addition to the qualitative criteria, including visibility and functionality, the purpose here is to emphasize the substantial function of BIPV systems. Each performance criterion was assessed alone. Then, all the performance criteria results were presented in a decision support matrix, which can be used as a comparison to evaluate and identify the solar system's application of choice, based on the criteria of the user. Moreover, a new energy index was formulated to evaluate the overall annual energy performance of BIPV design in terms of multifunctional effects on building energy. Different methods were adopted in this research; the qualitative criteria were evaluated based on the literature review analysis, while the quantitative criteria were evaluated by using different simulation software, previous literature review, and spreadsheet calculations. Literature review analyses were conducted in order to identify the relevant possibilities and the aesthetical solution the market offers, and the multiple benefits for PV and ST integration. The knowledge acquired from this part played a significant role in choosing and designing the proposals of PV and ST installation into the multi-story building envelope. Regarding the simulation studies, different building and energy simulation software was used to simulate and optimize the energy performance of the typical multi-family building in Amman, Jordan, through passive and architectural design strategies, as well as to find out the optimum design of the energy system in terms of energy performance (energy demand of the system, and solar energy fraction), and to investigate the energy-saving potential of PV and ST systems with various designs (tilt angles, azimuth, installed area, etc.). For the building energy simulation, each zone in the building was modeled as a space of its own. The energy demand was calculated on an hourly basis for a period of a whole year. The results from the simulation analysis, related literature and guidelines were adopted to conduct a life cycle assessment through spreadsheet calculation, to determine the long-term performance in terms of energy and carbon emissions, as well as cost considerations, taking into account the current market practice. The cradle-to-grave approach was adapted for the environmental life cycle assessments. The general conclusion of this research is that installing the PV modules into the multi-family buildings envelope in Amman, Jordan, makes a positive contribution in terms of energy performance, as PV systems can cover up to 97% of the new building electricity demand when they are installed on both the roof and south façade, and up to 43% is covered by installing the PV modules into the south facade. Regarding the environmental life cycle assessment, the results proved the carbon saving potential of all the proposed PV systems, as the energy payback time (EPBT) is between 1.5- 3.5 years and the carbon payback time (CPBT) is between 3.4- 7.8 years. However, for the life cycle cost assessment the result showed that due to high capital cost and low cost of electricity, neither system is currently feasible for investment, as the payback time (PBT) is between 9.0- 16 years. However, with future advances in each system and more efficient designs, the payback periods would become tangible and therefore yield better performances. Lastly, the results were used to derive a decision support matrix aimed at providing a friendly approach to facilitate the implementation of solar building applications.
... This value could be considered as an assumption of specific yield for roof-top systems located in Poland taking into account the variety of installation conditions forced by roof orientation and tilt angle. Taking into consideration specific yields analyzed for different location roof systems, this average value lies between the higher yields observed for lower latitudes [18,20,48] and lower yields characterized by higher latitude locations [25,26,49]. The annual yield analysis from a big data perspective of The Netherlands presented by Moraitis et al. [50] revealed similar average values ranging between 919 kWh/kWp and 970 kWh/kWp depending on the year. ...
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... The focus of this research was centred mainly on the devices power output. Still Ritzen et al. [91] carry out a similar analysis focusing, this time, also on energy payback time. Specifically, a BIPV rooftop device has been designed with and without an air-based heat extraction system and the calculation results show that the ventilated BIPV device generates 2.6% more than non-ventilated module. ...
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... The system consisted of 416 monocrystalline panels with an efficiency of 13.3% and the generated annually 19,481.66kWh of electricity. In Europe, such studies have been reported in the literature like Mondol et al. [88] and Ayompe et al. [89] for Ireland (see Figure 18); Aste et al. [90], Malvoni et al [91], Ghiani et al. [92], Congedo [93], Micheli et al. [94], and Mellit and Pavan [95] for Italy; Cucumo [96] for Calabria; Schoen [97], Ritzen et al. [98], and Ritzen et al. [99] for Netherland; Adaramola [100] for Norway; Dufo-lo [101] for Spain; and Milosavljević et al. [102] for Serbia. ...
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... The system consisted of 416 monocrystalline panels with an efficiency of 13.3% and the generated annually 19,481.66kWh of electricity. In Europe, such studies have been reported in the literature like Mondol et al. [88] and Ayompe et al. [89] for Ireland (see Figure 18); Aste et al. [90], Malvoni et al [91], Ghiani et al. [92], Congedo [93], Micheli et al. [94], and Mellit and Pavan [95] for Italy; Cucumo [96] for Calabria; Schoen [97], Ritzen et al. [98], and Ritzen et al. [99] for Netherland; Adaramola [100] for Norway; Dufo-lo [101] for Spain; and Milosavljević et al. [102] for Serbia. ...
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Full-text available
Saudi Arabia has embarked on diversification of its existing energy portfolio through rene wables, mainly solar photovoltaic and thermal, and wind power. This study presents an overview of how different areas around the world utilized building-integrated solar photovoltaic applications to recommend appropriate and suitable options for implementation in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East region. With this objective, the power utility will have three-fold benefits (i) clean and economic power arability for offgrid remotely located dwellings, (ii) cutting down the emissions of greenhouse gases, and (iii) conserving the fixed reserves of fossil fuels, which are being used mainly for power production around the world. The study shows that building-integrated applications are most common in Asian and European countries. Moreover, it is observed that monocrystalline and polycrystalline photovoltaic materials are both technologically and economically suitable for such applications.
... The results indicated that a 12-16 cm air gap could greatly reduce the overheating problem and increase the electricity generation. Ritzen et al. [19] compared the electrical performances of ventilated and non-ventilated PV rooftops. The test results showed that when operated in The Netherlands, the power output of the ventilated PV rooftop was 2.6% higher than that of the non-ventilated type. ...
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... With respect to payback time, the energy payback time indicator has been used by [21] to examine the environmental performance of five photovoltaic-based electricity generation systems. Similarly, the energy payback time has been later used by [22] for the case of evaluating different photovoltaic rooftop designs. ...
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An overview is given of the environmental impacts of different PV technologies both at the present status of technology and for future technology. Crystalline silicon PV systems presently have energy pay-back times of 1.5-2 years for South-European locations and 2.7-3.5 yr for Middle-European locations. For silicon technology clear prospects for a reduction of energy input exist, and an energy pay-back of 1 year may be possible within a few years. Thin film technologies now have energy pay-back times in the range of 1-1.5 years (S.Europe). Greenhouse gas emissions are now in the range of 25-32 g/kWh and this could decrease to 15 g/kWh in the future. Therefore PV energy systems have a very good potential as a low-carbon energy supply technology.
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To fulfil (part of) the electricity demand of buildings, photovoltaics (PV) can be added to the building envelope (BAPV) or integrated in the building envelope (BIPV). To assess environmental impact, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) tools are applied. In this study, an LCA method is developed for BIPV configurations. The LCA is applied on three different PV technologies; Multi-Si, Amorf-Si, and copper indium gallium (di) selenide (CIGS), in three different BIPV rooftop configurations; non-ventilated, ventilated with an aluminum construction and ventilated with a bamboo construction. The assessment covers three end-of-life scenarios; reusing, recycling and circulation. The conclusions of the assessment are that 1 m² Amorf-Si bamboo ventilated configuration shows the lowest environmental impact of 3700 m²·a, given the investigated BIPV configurations with current maximum recycling percentages of PV technologies. To lower the claim on carrying capacity, reusing and recycling percentages have to be improved and non-renewable resources have to be eliminated or replaced by renewable resources. With 100% recycling, 1 m² non-ventilated Amorf-Si configuration shows the lowest environmental impact of 7.44 m²·a, given the investigated BIPV configurations.
Article
Backside ventilation is one of the most common passive cooling methods of PV modules in the built environment, but might be under constraint when integrating PV in the building envelope. To investigate the short and long term effect of backside ventilation on Building Integrated PV (BIPV) performance and lifespan, a comparative BIPV field test is conducted in a real life lab located in the Netherlands. The field test includes 24 modules in 4 segments with different levels of backside ventilation. PV energy output, module backside temperature, relative humidity in the air gap, and air velocity in the air gap have been monitored for three years in the period January 2013–December 2015. At the end of the monitoring period Electric Luminescence (EL) images were made and Standard Testing Condition (STC) power was determined. The ventilated segments show a similar behaviour (6% difference) in PV energy output, but the non-ventilated segment shows a strong decrease of 86% in output after three years. A maximum temperature of 72 °C is reached in the ventilated segments and a maximum temperature of 83 °C in the non-ventilated segment. Relative humidity (RH) levels reach a maximum of 100% in all segments. Air velocity in the non-ventilated segment is 13–39% of the air velocity in the ventilated segments. STC power determination and EL imaging show lower peak power and more defects in the non-ventilated modules, and modules placed at vertical higher positions in the non-ventilated segment have a lower power output of 50–60%. The results indicate that, considering the first generation Metal Wrap Through (MWT) modules investigated, the non-ventilated BIPV modules exposed to the highest temperatures show the lowest power output, lowest STC power and show the most damaged cells in the EL imaging. Even though PV module manufacturing shows continuous technological advances, the methodology and results of this work has added value for the prediction of BIPV operating aspects and lifespan when designing and realizing a BIPV installation. Moreover, the BIPV field test presented in this study has been a very illustrative BIPV demonstration project for manufacturers, installers and designers.
Article
The existing building stock is a logical target to improve the level of sustainability of the built environment by energy saving measures. These measures typically entail a decrease of operational energy demand, mainly by adding building components such as insulation packages and energy generating devices. Consequently, material related environmental impact might create a collateral disproportionate burden, which is not well addressed in current assessment methods. In an attempt to evaluate this effect, two common dwelling types in the Netherlands, a terraced and a detached dwelling, have been redesigned to the level of Zero Energy Building in four scenarios, and the environmental impact of these scenarios has been assessed, expressed in embodied energy and related to the carrying capacity, expressed in embodied land (m2·a). The lowest environmental impact is achieved in the scenario with an average U-value of 0.29 W/m2K and 35 m2 and 75 m2 of PV modules for the terraced and the detached dwelling, respectively. In this scenario, added embodied energy is 3.4 GJ/m2 and embodied land is 308,777 m2·a land for the terraced dwelling and 5.2 GJ/m2 and 653,644 m2·a land for the detached dwelling. This evaluation indicates that a focus on only energy efficiency improvement shows a collateral material related environmental impact which should be embedded in the complete environmental assessment of buildings.
Chapter
While its design has significant impact on the sustainability of a building, assessment methods to measure sustainability in design phases are not widely used. If assessment methods are applied, it is debatable whether they can generate the insight that is needed to realize a truly sustainable built environment. In this chapter the assessment of two important aspects in relation to building sustainability, energy and materials, is investigated. The chapter consists of a comparison of these aspects with regard to different assessment strategies. Finally, an alternative indicator offering another perspective on assessing sustainability in relation to architecture is introduced.
Article
The integration of solar modules on buildings’ roofs and façades is one of the most elegant applications of photovoltaics (PV). With the declining costs of this technology, building-integrated and building-applied photovoltaics (BIPV and BAPV) can efficiently and cost-competitively assist in delivering electricity in urban environments. We have quantified the potential of BIPV and BAPV generators on existing single-family detached residential buildings in Florianopolis–Brazil (latitude 27°S, solar irradiation 1550 kWh/m2/year), in supplying each house and a fraction of the local utility feeder's electricity demands. We have measured and compared the annual output performance of thin-film amorphous silicon, and traditional crystalline silicon solar PV technologies, and proposed solar PV kits to be installed on all of the existing 496 residential buildings roof tops in the mixed residential–commercial area studied. The typical single-family, detached home roof covers can easily accommodate the proposed PV kits, with 87% of these generators yielding at least 95% of the maximum theoretical generation output of an ideally oriented and tilted PV system. Low-pitched, existing roof covers in residential houses represent excellent areas for PV integration at low latitudes. Installing BIPV on all of the available roof areas can make each and every house a net energy-positive building.
Article
Accurate knowledge on the technical potential for Building Integrated PhotoVoltaics (BIPV) in the various member states of the European Union is unavailable. To estimate the potential for BIPV we developed a method using readily available statistical data on buildings from European databases. Based on country-specific data on building characteristics and irradiation we estimate the BIPV technical potential in the EU-27 at 951 GWp. Installed it can deliver about 840 TWh of electricity, which is equivalent to more than 22% of the expected European 2030 annual electricity demand.
Article
A high energy return on energy investment (EROI) of an energy production process is crucial to its long-term viability. The EROI of conventional thermal electricity from fossil fuels has been viewed as being much higher than those of renewable energy life-cycles, and specifically of photovoltaics (PVs). We show that this is largely a misconception fostered by the use of outdated data and, often, a lack of consistency among calculation methods. We hereby present a thorough review of the methodology, discuss methodological variations and present updated EROI values for a range of modern PV systems, in comparison to conventional fossil-fuel based electricity life-cycles.
Article
Production and consumption activities in industrialized countries are increasingly dependent on material and energy resources from other world regions and imply significant economic and environmental consequences in other regions around the world. The substitution of domestic material extraction and processing through imports is also shifting environmental burden abroad and thus extends the responsibility for environmental impacts as well as social consequences from the national to the global level. Based on the results of the Global Resource Accounting Model, this paper presents the first trade balances and consumption indicators for embodied materials in a time series from 1995 to 2005. The model includes 53 countries and two world regions. It is based on the 2009 edition of the input–output tables and bilateral trade data published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and is extended by physical data on global material extraction. The results quantify the global shift of embodied material resources from developing and emerging countries to the industrialized world. In addition to the level of industrialization and wealth, population density is identified as an important factor for the formation of physical trade patterns. Exports of embodied materials of less densely populated countries tend to surpass their imports, and vice versa. We also provide a quantitative comparison between conventionally applied indicators on material consumption based on direct material flows and indicators including embodied material flows. We show that the difference between those two indicators can be as much as 200%, calling for an adjustment of conventional national material flow indicators. Multi-regional input–output models prove to be a useful methodological approach to derive globally consistent and comprehensive data on material embodiments of trade and consumption.
Article
Photovoltaic (PV) modules attain high temperatures when exposed to a combination of high radiation levels and elevated ambient temperatures. The temperature rise can be particularly problematic for fully building integrated PV (BIPV) roof tile systems if back ventilation is restricted. PV laminates could suffer yield degradation and accelerated aging in these conditions. This paper presents a laboratory based experimental investigation undertaken to determine the potential for high temperature operation in such a BIPV installation. This is achieved by ascertaining the dependence of the PV roof tile temperature on incident radiation and ambient temperature. A theory based correction was developed to account for the unrealistic sky temperature of the solar simulator used in the experiments. The particular PV roof tiles used are warranted up to an operational temperature of 85 °C, anything above this temperature will void the warranty because of potential damage to the integrity of the encapsulation. As a guide for installers, a map of southern Europe has been generated indicating locations where excessive module temperatures might be expected and thus where installation is inadvisable.
Article
The photovoltaic energy sector is rapidly expanding and technological specification for PV has improved dramatically in the last two decades. This paper sketches the current state of the art and drafts three alternative scenarios for the future, in terms of costs, market penetration and environmental performance. According to these scenarios, if economic incentives are supported long enough into the next ten to twenty years, PV looks set for a rosy future, and is likely to play a significant role in the future energy mix, while at the same time contributing to reduce the environmental impact of electricity supply.
Article
During the years 2001–2005, a European solar radiation database was developed using a solar radiation model and climatic data integrated within the Photovoltaic Geographic Information System (PVGIS). The database, with a resolution of 1 km × 1 km, consists of monthly and yearly averages of global irradiation and related climatic parameters, representing the period 1981–1990. The database has been used to analyse regional and national differences of solar energy resource and to assess the photovoltaic (PV) potential in the 25 European Union member states and 5 candidate countries. The calculation of electricity generation potential by contemporary PV technology is a basic step in analysing scenarios for the future energy supply and for a rational implementation of legal and financial frameworks to support the developing industrial production of PV. Three aspects are explored within this paper: (1) the expected average annual electricity generation of a ‘standard’ 1 kWp grid-connected PV system; (2) the theoretical potential of PV electricity generation; (3) determination of required installed capacity for each country to supply 1% of the national electricity consumption from PV. The analysis shows that PV can already provide a significant contribution to a mixed renewable energy portfolio in the present and future European Union.
Article
The building construction industry consumes a large amount of resources and energy and, owing to current global population growth trends, this situation is projected to deteriorate in the near future. Buildings consume approximately 40 percent of total global energy: during the construction phase in the form of embodied energy and during the operation phase as operating energy. Embodied energy is expended in the processes of building material production (mining and manufacture), on-site delivery, construction and assembly on-site, renovation and final demolition. Recent studies have considered the significance of embodied energy inherent in building materials, with a specific focus on this fraction of sequestered energy. Current interpretations of embodied energy are quite unclear and vary greatly, and embodied energy databases suffer from problems of variation and incomparability. Furthermore, there is no reliable template, standard or protocol regarding embodied energy computations that could address these problems in embodied energy inventories. This paper focuses on the analysis of existing literature in order to identify differing parameters so that development of a consistent and comparable database can be facilitated.
Article
Material flows and emissions in all the stages of production of zinc, copper, aluminum, cadmium, indium, germanium, gallium, selenium, tellurium, and molybdenum were investigated. These metals are used selectively in the manufacture of solar cells, and emission and energy factors in their production are used in the life cycle analysis (LCA) of photovoltaics. Significant changes have occurred in the production and associated emissions for these metals over the last 10 years, which are not described in the LCA databases. Furthermore, emission and energy factors for several of the by-products of the base metal production were lacking. This review article aims in updating the life cycle inventories associated with the production of the base metals (Zn, Cu), and defining the production paths and emission and energy allocations for the minor metals (Cd, Ge, In, Mo, Se, and Te) used in photovoltaics.
Article
Building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) perform traditional architectural functions of walls and roofs while also generating electricity. The displacement of utility generated electricity and conventional building materials can conserve fossil fuels and have environmental benefits. A life cycle inventory model is presented that characterizes the energy and environmental performance of BIPV systems relative to the conventional grid and displaced building materials. The model is applied to an amorphous silicon PV roofing shingle in different regions across the US. The electricity production efficiency (electricity output/total primary energy input excluding insolation) for a reference BIPV system (2kWp PV shingle system with a 6% conversion efficiency and 20 year life) ranged from 3.6 in Portland OR to 5.9 in Phoenix, AZ indicating a significant return on energy investment. The reference system had the greatest air pollution prevention benefits in cities with conventional electricity generation mixes dominated by coal and natural gas, not necessarily in cities where the insolation and displaced conventional electricity were greatest.
Article
Sustainable development requires methods and tools to measure and compare the environmental impacts of human activities for the provision of goods and services (both of which are summarized under the term "products"). Environmental impacts include those from emissions into the environment and through the consumption of resources, as well as other interventions (e.g., land use) associated with providing products that occur when extracting resources, producing materials, manufacturing the products, during consumption/use, and at the products' end-of-life (collection/sorting, reuse, recycling, waste disposal). These emissions and consumptions contribute to a wide range of impacts, such as climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion, tropospheric ozone (smog) creation, eutrophication, acidification, toxicological stress on human health and ecosystems, the depletion of resources, water use, land use, and noise-among others. A clear need, therefore, exists to be proactive and to provide complimentary insights, apart from current regulatory practices, to help reduce such impacts. Practitioners and researchers from many domains come together in life cycle assessment (LCA) to calculate indicators of the aforementioned potential environmental impacts that are linked to products-supporting the identification of opportunities for pollution prevention and reductions in resource consumption while taking the entire product life cycle into consideration. This paper, part 1 in a series of two, introduces the LCA framework and procedure, outlines how to define and model a product's life cycle, and provides an overview of available methods and tools for tabulating and compiling associated emissions and resource consumption data in a life cycle inventory (LCI). It also discusses the application of LCA in industry and policy making. The second paper, by Pennington et al. (Environ. Int. 2003, in press), highlights the key features, summarises available approaches, and outlines the key challenges of assessing the aforementioned inventory data in terms of contributions to environmental impacts (life cycle impact assessment, LCIA).
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