Life cycle assessment, triple bottom line, economic input output analysis, multi objective decision making, sustainable built environment
The overall goals of this dissertation are to investigate the sustainability of the built environment, holistically, by assessing its Triple Bottom Line (TBL): environmental, economic, and social impacts, as well as propose cost-effective, socially acceptable, and environmentally benign policies using several decision support models. This research is anticipated to transform life cycle assessment (LCA) of the built environment by using a TBL framework, integrated with economic input-output analysis, simulation, and multicriteria optimization tools. The major objectives of the outlined research are to (1) build a system-based TBL sustainability assessment framework for the sustainable built environment, by (a) advancing a national TBL-LCA model which is not available for the United States of America; (b) extending the integrated sustainability framework through environmental, economic, and social sustainability indicators; and (2) develop a systembased analysis toolbox for sustainable decisions including Monte Carlo simulation and multi-criteria compromise programming. When analyzing the total sustainability impacts by each U.S. construction sector, “Residential Permanent Single and Multi-Family Structures" and "Other Non-residential Structures" are found to have the highest environmental, economic, and social impacts compared to other construction sectors. The analysis results also show that indirect suppliers of construction sectors have the largest sustainability impacts compared to onsite activities. For example, for all U.S. construction sectors, on-site construction processes are found to be responsible for less than 5 % of total water consumption, whereas about 95 iv % of total water use can be attributed to indirect suppliers. In addition, Scope 3 emissions are responsible for the highest carbon emissions compared to Scope 1 and 2. Therefore, using narrowly defined system boundaries by ignoring supply chain-related impacts can result in underestimation of TBL sustainability impacts of the U.S. construction industry. Residential buildings have higher shares in the most of the sustainability impact categories compared to other construction sectors. Analysis results revealed that construction phase, electricity use, and commuting played important role in much of the sustainability impact categories. Natural gas and electricity consumption accounted for 72% and 78% of the total energy consumed in the U.S. residential buildings. Also, the electricity use was the most dominant component of the environmental impacts with more than 50% of greenhouse gases emitted and energy used through all life stages. Furthermore, electricity generation was responsible for 60% of the total water withdrawal of residential buildings, which was even greater than the direct water consumption in residential buildings. In addition, construction phase had the largest share in income category with 60% of the total income generated through residential building’s life cycle. Residential construction sector and its supply chain were responsible for 36% of the import, 40% of the gross operating surplus, and 50% of the gross domestic product. The most sensitive parameters were construction activities and its multiplier in most the sustainability impact categories. v In addition, several emerging pavement types are analyzed using a hybrid TBL-LCA framework. Warm-mix Asphalts (WMAs) did not perform better in terms of environmental impacts compared to Hot-mix Asphalt (HMA). Asphamin® WMA was found to have the highest environmental and socio-economic impacts compared to other pavement types. Material extractions and processing phase had the highest contribution to all environmental impact indicators that shows the importance of cleaner production strategies for pavement materials. Based on stochastic compromise programming results, in a balanced weighting situation, Sasobit® WMA had the highest percentage of allocation (61%), while only socio-economic aspects matter, Asphamin® WMA had the largest share (57%) among the WMA and HMA mixtures. The optimization results also supported the significance of an increased WMA use in the United States for sustainable pavement construction. Consequently, the outcomes of this dissertation will advance the state of the art in built environment sustainability research by investigating novel efficient methodologies capable of offering optimized policy recommendations by taking the TBL impacts of supply chain into account. It is expected that the results of this research would facilitate better sustainability decisions in the adoption of system-based TBL thinking in the construction field.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Engineering and Computer Science
Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Dissertations, Academic -- Engineering and Computer Science, Engineering and Computer Science -- Dissertations, Academic
Kucukvar, Murat, "Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment Framework For The U.S. Built Environment" (2013). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2868.