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Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the façade
Innovative solutions for zero- emission façade design enable significant reduction of heat loses. However, considering all phases of the life cycle of a façade, some solutions being energy- efficient in the maintenance phase, may have a significant environmental impact on the production or disposal stage. Therefore, the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is needed in order to measure the sustainability of any design of the façade. The result of LCA should be considered with energy performance of the façade panel in the design procedure. In the GPEE project, the LCA calculations will be performed for 6 different façade panel solutions. The results of the LCA analysis for each panel will be than taken into consideration in the optimization procedure, allowing to choose the best design for zero-emission façades.

The first step needed to perform the LCA is the choice of the assessment method that corresponds best to the scope of the research and gives a clear result for further analysis. Different tools for LCA were considered (SimaPRO (Ecopoints, Ecoindicator), Carbon footprint, MIPS factors, EIOLCA, Gabi). The MIPS technique, which gives the LCA results as a single score was chosen for this assessment, since taking into account the optimization procedure, the result of the LCA should be expressed as score, proportional to the panel surface.

MIPS stands for Material Intensity per Service Unit and is a concept originally developed at the Wuppertal Institute, Germany. It is a clear and transparent tool for LCA calculations, based on a continuously updated database of material intensity (MI) factors, measured by experts, describing environmental impacts of different materials, energy production etc. LCA results are given in kg of natural resources consumed in the whole lifetime of a material (during its production, distribution, use and disposal).

Four opaque façade solutions and two transparent ones were considered in the analysis, including panels with glass finish or photovoltaic one, standard mineral wool insulation or insulation equipped with extra layer of PCM (phase change materials). The transparent solutions considered are single skin and double skin façade windows. The panel 3-D schemes of some opaque panels are presented in figure 15.

Figure. 15. 3-D schemes of analyzed panels solutions. MW stands for mineral wool insulation, PCM- phase change material, PV- photovoltaic finish.Figure. 15. 3-D schemes of analyzed panels solutions. MW stands for mineral wool insulation, PCM- phase change material, PV- photovoltaic finish

According to the general outcomes of the analysis, the panel with photovoltaic finish proves to be the most suitable opaque solution from the environmental point of view, as far as the façade is well exposed to the sunlight radiation. Due to the long life cycle of a building, the decisive factor for LCA is energy demand for heating (even for very efficient insulating systems). As a result, improving the energy performance of any façade design proves to be the most efficient way to reduce the environmental impact.

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