Estimating the environmental burdens of residential energy supply systems through material input and emission factors

Kari Alanne, Arto Saari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


This paper introduces a method and application for the assessment of environmental burdens due to the construction and operation of a residential energy supply system. The methodology encompasses energy and environmental impact analyses with sensitivity analysis. Here, natural resource consumption is assessed through material input factors. Global warming and acidification potentials are estimated by way of CO, and SO, equivalents. A simple optimization scheme is established to capture uncertainties related to preferential treatment between natural resource categories. A computational Study on the energy Supply Of a group of low-energy single-family houses in Finland is presented. Specifically, the potential of micro-cogeneration is evaluated with respect to traditional options based on grid electricity, district heat and natural gas. The energy analysis suggests that the operation of a heating system causes a major part of environmental burdens and that no more than 1000 W on-site generated electrical power per one household would result in minimum thermal losses and thus environmental burdens. Oil the basis of environmental impact analysis, the use of state-of-the-art micro-cogeneration may decrease the annual use of abiotic resources and water to some extent. but for practical applications, further improvement of system efficiency is still required. (c) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1734-1748
Number of pages15
JournalBuilding and Environment
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2008
Externally publishedYes
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Environmental evaluation
  • Natural resource consumption
  • Global warming
  • Acidification
  • Life-cycle
  • MIPS
  • Micro-cogeneration
  • Residential buildings


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