Impact of maintenance on life cycle impact and cost assessment for residential flooring options
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Most life cycle assessment (LCA) studies for flooring exclude the environmental and economic impacts incurred from the maintenance required due to uncertainty in average cleaning procedures, although some studies indicate that it may be the most significant component of the life cycle. This study investigates the impacts of maintenance on types of flooring and develops a single scoring system to compare floors based on both environmental and economic impacts.
The focus of this study was on the impact of maintenance on the life cycle of flooring choices. Maintenance data was collected from trade association studies and manufacturer’s recommendations. This data was compiled, along with data from previous flooring studies, to create a comprehensive life cycle inventory which was analyzed with the LCA software, SimaPro. A number of maintenance techniques and frequencies were tested in order to do a sensitivity analysis. An uncertainty analysis was completed using Monte Carlo simulations. A life cycle costing (LCC) analysis was used to evaluate the total present value cost of flooring including maintenance. Environmental and economic impacts were normalized to create a single score in order to compare the overall performance of flooring choices.
Results and discussion
Maintenance procedures may account for a significant portion of environmental and economic impacts of floorings. In the case of environmental scores, adding high maintenance to the life cycle can increase scores by anywhere from 31 % (hardwood) to 114 % (carpet). A sensitivity analysis of these scores shows that most of the score increase can be attributed to vacuuming. Maintenance costs considerably increase the total cost, accounting for 49 % of hardwood’s total cost and about 30 % of costs for linoleum, vinyl, and carpet. The expected service life of the home greatly influences which flooring is best, as costs and environmental scores change dynamically over time. For the expected service life of a home of 61 years, carpet has the worst and linoleum has the best overall performance.
Although averages for maintenance techniques are not currently known, ignoring maintenance as a part of the use phase presents a significant error in the comparison of flooring options environmentally and economically. Due in part to yearly maintenance effects, the flooring choice with the best overall performance changes dynamically depending on the expected service life remaining for the home.
KeywordsFlooring Life cycle costing Life cycle impact assessment Lifetime Maintenance phase Residential buildings Single scoring Uncertainty analysis
This research was supported by the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems, Hightower Chair, and the Georgia Research Alliance at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The views and ideas expressed herein are solely of the authors and do not represent the ideas of the funding agencies in any form.
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