Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Enhancing Transparency in the Built Environment: A Dynamic Life Cycle Assessment Approach Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
  • The built environment is a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 40% of the total. Construction materials, particularly cement, have a significant impact on embodied carbon. However, traditional life cycle assessments (LCAs) use a single score value to quantify embodied carbon, which ignores the dynamic nature of emissions over the lifecycle of a building. As the LCA encompasses an increasing number of lifecycle stages, emissions are released at different points during a given period of analysis, and the resulting global warming impact may not simply be the sum of those emissions. Dynamic LCA (DLCA) has been proposed as a more effective framework for quantifying global warming impact, taking into account the time-dependent emissions inventory. This study explores the application of DLCA in the built environment and investigates its effectiveness compared to traditional LCA. As the use of carbon-storing materials has been identified as a potential strategy for mitigating embodied carbon, this study employs DLCA to examine the necessity of dynamic analysis when considering emissions inventories that have carbon uptake. The study further uses DLCA to evaluate how concrete carbonation can be leveraged to store carbon to reduce its environmental impact. Lastly, a DLCA is applied to a case study of three functionally equivalent structural systems: reinforced concrete, composite steel, and mass timber.

    The study's findings recommend employing DLCA when a building’s emissions inventory becomes are distributed throughout the analysis period considered. It also provides an emphasis of end-of-life concrete treatment over carbon sequestration during the service life phase for effective climate change mitigation in the long run. By conducting DLCA at a systems level, the study highlights that interpreting traditional and dynamic LCA separately can lead to different conclusions. The nuanced interpretation of DLCA can enhance transparency in reporting global warming impact.

Date Issued
  • 2023-04-22
Academic Affiliation
Committee Member
Degree Grantor
Commencement Year
Last Modified
  • 2024-01-16
Resource Type
Rights Statement