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Opportunities for the demand and supply of regional resources to reduce the embodied impact of domestic thermal insulation

Varriale, Fabrizio 2018. Opportunities for the demand and supply of regional resources to reduce the embodied impact of domestic thermal insulation. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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The demand for insulation is expected to rise in the UK to achieve National and International energy targets, such as the 2016 Paris Agreement. The majority of products currently installed in UK housing are manufactured from mineral and fossil resources. Research indicates that biomass-based products have lower embodied impact than most conventional products. The drivers and barriers associated with a large-scale shift to biomass-based products, such as the socio-economic impact and the availability of local resources, are yet to be explored. To do this, the supply and impact of insulation products will be investigated with a long-term and large-scale perspective focusing on the case of Wales, UK. The embodied environmental impact of mineral, fossil and biomass-based products is estimated using process-based life-cycle assessment. A forecast of demand for insulation from new and retrofitted dwellings is used as basis for future supply scenarios modelling different combinations of products. Baseline and alternative scenarios are built to model overall changes of environmental impact brought about by product substitution over time. The quantity of materials required to manufacture biomass-based products is compared to the regional capacity to supply such levels of resources. The socio-economic impact of products is investigated by surveying market prices and performing input-output life-cycle assessment. Multiplier effects for UK industry sectors are obtained via economic input-output analysis. Product prices and multiplier effects of the relative industry sector are used to estimate embodied work and gross value added associated with the various insulation products. The research shows that biomass-based products have better cradle-to-gate environmental and socio-economic impact than fossil-based products, whilst benefits are less defined in comparison to mineral-based products. However, the good environmental performance of biomass product is tied to the carbon sequestered in their material. If the products are incinerated at the end-of-life stage, the embodied carbon savings biomass products can be lost. Demand for biomass-based products in Wales could be sustained with local resources and bring environmental and socio-economic benefits, although capital investment and policy intervention would be required to establish local supply chains and lower product price.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Architecture
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
Uncontrolled Keywords: demand; supply; regional resources; embodied impact; domestic; thermal insulation; carbon biomass
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 11 December 2018
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2018 10:37

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