Building materials and their impacts on biodiversity A comparison of wood and concrete building frames

Examensarbete för masterexamen
Master's Thesis
Industrial ecology (MPTSE), MSc
Fransson Christiansson, Martin
Roos, Theodor
The usage of biomaterials in society is increasing due to their environmental benefits and renewability. However, risks involved in using biomaterials include biodiversity loss, conflicts in land use, and carbon storage potential. There are numerous ways to assess the environmental impact of materials, one of which is life cycle assessment (LCA). Biodiversity is a very complex subject as it can be measured on different scales and aspects. Due to the complexity, biodiversity is not yet fully internalised in the LCA framework as no generally accepted method can cover all aspects of biodiversity. The purpose of this thesis was to assess the environmental impact of the building materials wood and concrete. To do this, the load bearing constructions of two buildings about to be built by Sveafastigheter was investigated using an LCA approach. The main focus of the assessment was to capture the biodiversity impact at species level by using different methods of impact assessment and comparing the results. Biodiversity loss is often caused by anthropogenic activities induced by underlying causes such as production and consumption patterns, population growth, trade, and technological innovation. IPBES have identified five direct drivers: land use change, climate change, pollution, exploitation of species, and invasive species. Three different methods of impact assessment were chosen due to their connection to the direct drivers behind biodiversity loss. ReCiPe was chosen due to the inclusion of midpoint impact categories covering climate change, pollution, and to some degree land use change. Two separate methods developed by Chaudhary and Brooks, and Kuipers et al., with each looking at land use were chosen since they each look at the impacts of land use more comprehensively than ReCiPe. Completely developed methods of impact assessment was not found for the inclusion of neither exploitation of species, nor invasive species. Results showed that when including climate change, pollution, and land use via ReCiPe, the concrete-framed building had a higher impact on species loss than the wood-framed building. However, the methods unanimously showed that the wood-framed building had a substantially larger impact due to land use change. Thus, a conclusion can be made that when measuring biodiversity loss due to the usage of different materials, there is a need to develop methods covering all aspects of biodiversity including all five drivers behind biodiversity loss as well as the impact on different levels of biodiversity.
Biodiversity , life cycle assessment , methods of impact assessment, , wood , concrete
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