Streamlined life cycle assessment of an innovative bio-based material in construction: a case study of a phase change material panel

Article de Mohammad Davoud Heidari, Damien Mathis, Pierre Blanchet and Ben Amor

Abstract: Research Highlights: This is the first study that analyzes the environmental performance of wood-based phase change material (PCM) panels. Background and Objectives: Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a powerful environmental management tool. However, a full LCA, especially during the early design phase of a product, is far too time and data intensive for industrial companies to conduct during their production and consumption processes. Therefore, there is an increasing demand for simpler methods to demonstrate a company’s resource efficiency potential without being data or time intensive. The goal of this study is to investigate the suitability of streamlined LCA (SLCA) tools and methods used in the building material industry, and to assess their robustness in the case study of a wood-based PCM panel. Materials and Methods: The Bilan Produit tool was selected as the SLCA tool and a matrix LCA was selected as the most commonly used SLCA method. A specific case study of a wood-based PCM panel was selected with a focus on its application in building construction in the province of Québec. Results: As a semi-quantitative LCA method, the matrix LCA provided a quick screening of the product life cycle and its hotspot stages, i.e., life cycle stages with high impact. However, the results of the full LCA and SLCA tools were quantitative and based on scientific databases. The use of the PCM panel and heating energy had the highest environmental impacts as compared to other inputs. The results of the full LCA and SLCA also identified energy consumption as a hotspot. Insufficient material or processes in the SLCA databases was one of the reasons for the difference between the results of the SLCA and full LCA. Conclusions: The examined SLCA methods provided proper explanations for the bio-based material in construction, but several limitations still exist, and the methods should be improved to make them more robust when implemented in such a specific sector.