2015 CSCE Annual Conference Regina - Building on our Growth Opportunities

2015 CSCE Annual Conference Regina - Building on our Growth Opportunities Conference

Life cycle assessment to compare different types of 'green' concrete

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Ms. Karina Seto, University of Toronto (Presenter)
Mr. Cameron Churchill, McMaster University
Dr. Daman Panesar, University of Toronto

Over the past two decades efforts have been made to ‘green’ the concrete industry; from material selection and manufacturing to the implementation of innovative concrete products. A variety of concrete mix designs are considered to be ‘green’ and are often referred to as ‘sustainable’ such as concrete containing supplementary cementing materials, photocatalytic concrete, pervious concrete, recycled aggregate concrete, etc..  These sustainable cement-based materials can potentially reduce the environmental impact of concrete applications over various stages of their life cycle (e.g. extraction and processing of raw materials, batching and mixing, transportation of raw materials and final product, activities during useful life). Life cycle assessment (LCA) is defined as “the compilation and evaluation of the inputs, outputs and potential environmental impacts of a product system throughout its life cycle” (ISO14040 1997).  With such a broad scope of potential impacts, a LCA perspective is useful for assessing the environmental performance of these materials. Prior to conducting a comparative LCA study on different concrete materials it is necessary to examine a variety of software packages for this specific focus. The paper presents the LCA for four mix designs (conventional concrete and concrete with fly ash, slag, or limestone as cement replacement) using three LCA tools. Three key evaluation criteria required to assess the quality of analysis are: adequate flexibility, sophisticated and complex analysis, and useful and high-quality outputs. The life cycle inventory (LCI) data available within each tool is assessed based on data quality metrics including reliability, completeness, and relevance to this study.

ISO (1997) Environmental Management.  Life Cycle Assessment: Principals and Frameworks. ISO 14040