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Sci Total Environ. 2017 Oct 15;596-597:405-416. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.03.107. Epub 2017 Apr 25.

On the necessity of improving the environmental impacts of furniture and appliances in net-zero energy buildings.

Author information

1
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Building 2050 Research Group, Passage du Cardinal 13B, 1700 Fribourg, Switzerland; Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Structural Xploration Lab (SXL), Passage du Cardinal 13B, 1700 Fribourg, Switzerland. Electronic address: end.hoxha@hotmail.com.
2
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Building 2050 Research Group, Passage du Cardinal 13B, 1700 Fribourg, Switzerland.

Abstract

There is now clear evidence regarding the extensive use of furniture and appliances in daily human life, but there is less evidence of their impact on the environment. Responding to this gap in knowledge, this study focuses on an assessment of the environmental impacts of furniture and appliances as used in highly energy efficient buildings. Their primary energy, non-renewable energy and global warming potential indicators have been assessed by extending the boundaries of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study beyond the building itself. In conclusion, we found that furniture and appliances were responsible for around 30% of greenhouse gas emissions and non-renewable energy consumption and 15% of primary energy consumption comparing to the overall impacts of the building. Since embodied impacts represent the largest values, the process for labelling the appliances' energy efficiency should encompass a life-cycle point of view, not just a usage point of view as the case currently. Among office appliances, computer equipment was ranked as the highest impacting element, especially laptops and monitors. As for domestic appliances, refrigerators and electric ovens had the biggest impacts. Concerning furniture, the greatest impacts were from office and kitchen cabinets.

KEYWORDS:

Appliances; Furniture; Life cycle assessment (LCA); Net-zero energy building (NZEB)

PMID:
28448916
DOI:
10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.03.107
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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