Journal article Open Access

Comparing the environmental impacts of wooden buildings in Spain, Slovenia, and Germany

Alberto Quintana-Gallardo; Erwin M. Schau; Eva Prelovšek Niemelä; Michael D. Burnard

The environmental impacts of a wooden single-family model house were compared in different locations in Europe using Life Cycle Assessment. The chosen locations were Munich, Ljubljana, Portorož, Madrid, and Valencia. The main purpose was to analyze the existing barriers for designing a regenerative wood house and how those barriers change depending on the local conditions. The LCA results show that, despite the highly insulative building envelope, the use phase still contributes between 65% and 76% of the total carbon emissions over the complete life cycle of the house. Carbon emissions and the overall environmental impacts are higher in the locations with a colder climate, due to the energy used for heating. However, the electricity generation mix can sometimes overshadow those differences. Due to that influence, the carbon emissions in Munich are much higher than in Ljubljana despite having a similar energy consumption. The electricity mix effect is also observed when comparing the environmental impacts in Madrid and Portorož, where the CO2 emissions are slightly higher in Madrid despite its lower energy consumption. These results demonstrate the need for taking measures to overcome the impacts that are not possible to elimin–ate by passively isolating the house.

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