Advertisement

Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 251–266 | Cite as

Emergy-based life cycle assessment (Em-LCA) for sustainability appraisal of infrastructure systems: a case study on paved roads

  • Bahareh Reza
  • Rehan SadiqEmail author
  • Kasun Hewage
Original Paper

Abstract

Civil infrastructure systems are critical assets that are subjected to damage, service-life deterioration, and increasing maintenance and rehabilitation cost. Effective infrastructure management and principles of sustainable development can help to find an optimal compromise between economic growth and environmental protection for all stakeholders. Colloquially, sustainability refers to meeting triple-bottom-line (TBL) performance objectives including environmental protection, economic prosperity, and social acceptability and equity as a result of short- and long-term policy decisions. In this paper, a comprehensive framework based on the integration of emergy synthesis and life cycle assessment (LCA) has been investigated for a public infrastructure system. The main purpose of the applied method, emergy-based LCA (Em-LCA), is to facilitate an informed decision making process for different asset management scenarios, by identifying and quantifying the attributes of TBL impacts over the life cycle of a civil infrastructure system. As a case study, Em-LCA framework has been applied to evaluate the sustainability of two different scenarios for a road construction project in interior British Columbia, Canada. The results indicate that Em-LCA offers a good understanding to address sustainability issues in infrastructure systems and provides quantitative and transparent results to facilitate informed decision making for asset management.

Keywords

Sustainable infrastructure Emergy Life cycle assessment (LCA) Road system 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank James Kay for sharing valuable information related to the case study, and for his expert opinions. We would also like to acknowledge Aplin & Martin Consultants Ltd. for their support and assistance and for providing us with access to the case study data. In addition, research funding provided by National Science and Engineering Research Council and partial financial support from a UBC internal grant is also acknowledged.

References

  1. Athenasmi (2012) The athena impact estimator for highways is a prototype LCA-based software package that measures environmental impact of roadway designs. http://www.athenasmi.org/. Accessed 20 Jan 2012
  2. Bakshi BR (2000) A thermodynamic framework for ecologically conscious process systems engineering. Comp Chem Eng 24(2–7):445–451Google Scholar
  3. Bakshi BR (2002) A thermodynamic framework for ecologically conscious process systems engineering. Comp Chem Eng 26(2):269–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brandon P, Lombardi PL, Bentivegna V (1997) Evaluation of the built environment for sustainability. E & FN SPON, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Brown MT, Buranakarn V (2003) Emergy indices and ratios for sustainable material cycles and recycle options. Resour Conserv Recycl 38:1–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown M, Ulgiati S (1997) Emergy-based indices and ratios to evaluate sustainability: monitoring economies and technology toward environmentally sound innovation. Ecol Eng 9(1–2):51–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brown MT, Ulgiati S (1999) Emergy natural evaluation capital of the biosphere and natural capital. Ambio 28(6):486–493Google Scholar
  8. Brown MT, Ulgiati S (2002) Emergy evaluations and environmental loading of electricity production systems. J Clean Prod 10(4):321–334CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brown MT, Ulgiati S (2010) Emergy indices of biodiversity and ecosystem dynamics. In: Sven E. Jørgensen RC, Xu F.L. (eds) Handbook of ecological indicators for assessment of ecosystem health, 2nd edn. CRC Press, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  10. Brown MT, Raugei M, Ulgiati S (2012) On boundaries and ‘investments’ in emergy synthesis and LCA: a case study on thermal vs. photovoltaic electricity. Ecol Indic, 15(1):9Google Scholar
  11. CAA (2011) Driving costs beyond the price tag: understanding your vehicle’s expenses. Canadian Automobile Association, OttawaGoogle Scholar
  12. Campbell DE (1998) Emergy analysis of human carrying capacity and regional sustainability: an example using the state of Maine. Environ Monit Assess 51(1):531–569CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Campbell DE, Brandt-Williams SL, Meisch M (2005) Environmental accounting using emergy: evaluation of the state of West Virginia. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NarragansetGoogle Scholar
  14. Choguill CL (1996) Ten steps to sustainable infrastructure. Habitat Int 20(3):389–404CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Deakin M, Curwell S (2002) Sustainable urban development: the framework and directory of assessment methods. JEAPM 4(2):171–197Google Scholar
  16. Dezhi L, Man HEC, Xing X, Qiming L (2011) Methodology for assessing the sustainability of metro systems based on emergy analysis. J Manag Eng 1:61Google Scholar
  17. Duan N, Liu X, Dai J, Lin C, Xia X, Gao R, Wang Y, Chen S, Yang J, Qi J (2011) Evaluating the environmental impacts of an urban wetland park based on emergy accounting and life cycle assessment: a case study in Beijing. Ecol Model 222(2):351–359CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. ESA21 (2012) Trees and carbon. Environmental science activities for the 21st century. http://esa21.kennesaw.edu/activities/treescarbon/trees-carbon.pdf
  19. Fava J (2006) Will the next 10 years be as productive in advancing life cycle approaches as the last 15 years? Int J Life Cycle Assess 11(1):6–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hau JL, Bakshi BR (2004) Promise and problems of emergy analysis. Ecol Model 178(1–2):215–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Horvath A (2009) Principles of using life-cycle assessment in bridge analysis. In: Proceedings of US–Japan workshop on life cycle assessment of sustainable infrastructure materials Sapporo, Japan, October 21, 2009Google Scholar
  22. Horvath A, Hendrickson C (1998) Steel versus steel-reinforced concrete bridges: environmental assessment. J Infrastruct Syst 4:111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hossaini N, Hewage K (2013) Emergy accounting for regional studies: case study of Canada and its provinces. J Environ Manag 118(1):177–185Google Scholar
  24. Huang SL, Hsu WL (2003) Materials flow analysis and emergy evaluation of Taipei’s urban construction. Landsc Urban Plan 63(2):61–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ingwesen W (2011) Emergy as a life cycle impact assessment indicator a gold mining case study. J Ind Ecol 15(4):60Google Scholar
  26. ISAER (2012) Emergy database. Emergy Society Web SiteGoogle Scholar
  27. Keoleian GA, Kendall A, Dettling JE, Smith VM, Chandler RF, Lepech MD, Li VC (2005) Life cycle modeling of concrete bridge design: comparison of engineered cementitious composite link slabs and conventional steel expansion joints. J Infrastruct Syst 11:51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Khan F, Sadiq R, Veitch B (2004) Life cycle iNdeX (LInX): a new indexing procedure for process and product design and decision-making. J Clean Prod 12(1):59–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Liu G, Yang Z, Chen B, Ulgiati S (2011) Monitoring trends of urban development and environmental impact of Beijing, 1999–2006. Sci Tot Environ 409(18):3295–3308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lotka (1945) The law of evolution as a maximum principle. Hum Biol 17(3):167–195Google Scholar
  31. Lounis Z, Vanier DJ, Daigle L, Sadiq R, Kleiner Y, Almans Lounis Z (2010) Framework for assessment of state, performance and management of core public infrastructure—final report on transportation asset management, OttawaGoogle Scholar
  32. Odum HT (1988) Self-organization, transformity, and information. Sci AAAS 242(4882):1132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Odum HT (1995) Self-Organization and Maximum Empower. In: Hall CAS (ed) Maximum power: the ideas and applications. University Press of Colorado, ColoradoGoogle Scholar
  34. Odum HT (1996) Environmental accounting: emergy and environmental decision making. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  35. Odum HT (2000) Handbook of emergy evaluation-folio # 2 emergy of global processes. Center for environmental policy environmental engineering sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, USA. http://www.epa.gov/aed/html/collaboration/emergycourse/presentations/Folio2.pdf
  36. Odum HT (2007) Environment, power, and society for the twenty-first century: the hierarchy of energy. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  37. Ortiz O, Castells F, Sonnemann G (2009) Sustainability in the construction industry: a review of recent developments based on LCA. Constr Build Mater 23(1):28–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Pulselli RM, Simoncini E, Marchettini N (2009) Energy and emergy based cost-benefit evaluation of building envelopes relative to geographical location and climate. Build Environ 44(5):920–928CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Raugei M, Rugani B, Benetto E, Ingwersen WW (2012) Integrating emergy into LCA: potential added value and lingering obstacles. Ecol Model. Available online 21 December 2012. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304380012005637
  40. Reza B, Sadiq R, Hewage K (2011). Sustainability assessment of flooring systems in the city of Tehran: An AHP-based life cycle analysis. Constr Build Mater 25(4):2053–2066Google Scholar
  41. Rugani B, Panasiuk D (2012) An input–output based framework to evaluate human labour in life cycle assessment. J Life Cycle Assess 17(6):795–812Google Scholar
  42. Rugani B, Huijbregts MAJ, Mutel C, Bastianoni S, Hellweg S (2011) Solar energy demand (SED) of commodity life cycles. Environ Sci Technol 45:5426–5433. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/es103537f Google Scholar
  43. Sciubba E, Ulgiati S (2005) Emergy and exergy analyses: complementary methods or irreducible ideological options? Power 30:1953–1988Google Scholar
  44. Su M, Yang Z, Chen B (2011) Limiting factor analysis of urban ecosystems based on emergy—a case study of three cities in the Pearl River Delta in China. Proc Environ Sci 5:131–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ugwu O, Kumaraswamy M, Wong A, Ng S (2006) Sustainability appraisal in infrastructure projects (SUSAIP): part 1. Development of indicators and computational methods. Autom Constr 15(2):239–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Ulgiati S, Brown MT (2002) Quantifying the environmental support for dilution and abatement of process emissions: the case of electricity production. J Clean Prod 10(4):335–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Ulgiati S, Brown MT (2012) Labor and services. Seventh Biennial Emergy Research Conference, GainsvilleGoogle Scholar
  48. Ulgiati S, Brown MT, Bastianoni S, Marchettini N (1995) Emergy-based indices and ratios to evaluate the sustainable use of resources. Ecol Eng 5(4):519–531CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Ulgiati S, Raugei M, Bargigli S (2006) Overcoming the inadequacy of single-criterion approaches to life cycle assessment. Ecol Model 190(3–4):432–442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Von Bertalanffy L (1973) General system theory. George Braziller, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  51. Wang N, Chang YC, Nunn C (2010) Lifecycle assessment for sustainable design options of a commercial building in Shanghai. Build Environ 45(6):1415–1421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Weiland CD, Muench ST (2011) Life cycle assessment of portland cement concrete interstate highway rehabilitation and replacement. Washington State Transportation Center (TRAC). http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Research/Reports/700/744.4.htm
  53. Zhang H, Keoleian GA, Lepech MD, Kendall A (2010a) Life-cycle optimization of pavement overlay systems. J Infrastruct Syst Am Soc Civ Eng 16(4):310–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Zhang XH, Deng SH, Wu J, Jiang W (2010b) A sustainability analysis of a municipal sewage treatment ecosystem based on Emergy. Ecol Eng 36(5):685–696CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Zhang Y, Baral A, Bakshi BR (2010c) Accounting for ecosystem services in life cycle assessment, part II: toward an ecologically based LCA. Environ Sci 44:2624–2631Google Scholar
  56. Zhang Y, Singh S, Bakshi BR (2010d) Accounting for ecosystem services in life cycle assessment, part I: a critical review. Environ Sci Technol 44(7):2232–2242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Zhang X, Deng S, Zhang YZ, Yang G, Li L, Qi H, Xiao H, Wu J, W, YJ, Shen F (2011a). Emergy evaluation of the impact of waste exchanges on the sustainability of industrial systems. Ecol Eng 37(2):206–216Google Scholar
  58. Zhang Y, Yang Z, Liu G, Yu X (2011b) Emergy analysis of the urban metabolism of Beijing. Ecol Model 222(14):2377–2384CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EngineeringThe University of British ColumbiaKelownaCanada

Personalised recommendations