Steel or Wood Frame? A Life Cycle Comparison of External Wall Systems through Deconstruction and Reuse

Fernanda Cruz Rios, David Grau Torrent, Oswald Chong

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

The Construction sector uses 40% of the earth's resources, much of which ends up as "wastes" from our civilization. We can reduce resource use and eliminate demolition waste by simply reusing building materials. Some building components are easy to take apart and reuse while others require additional costs and effort. Some generate more environmental impacts during their recycling. The paper presents a study on understanding the lifecycle impact of recycling different building components and materials, thus allowing the industry to better understand the true lifecycle environmental impacts of reuse and recycling. The study compares the embodied energy, global warming potential, and water use of a wood frame and a steel frame for a manufactured home in the United States. The analysis assumes the wood frame would be demolished and rebuilt for three life cycles, while the steel frame was assumed to be continuously reused. The analysis is based on process-based life cycle analysis (LCA) and hybrid-LCA. Considerations on transportation distances and reuse rates were made. The analyses showed that, by using a cradle-to-cradle (C2C) framework, both methods generate conflicting results. The impact of the results to manufacturers, designers, policy-makers, building owners, and researchers are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationConstruction Research Congress 2018
Subtitle of host publicationSustainable Design and Construction and Education - Selected Papers from the Construction Research Congress 2018
PublisherAmerican Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
Pages482-492
Number of pages11
Volume2018-April
ISBN (Electronic)9780784481301
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
EventConstruction Research Congress 2018: Sustainable Design and Construction and Education, CRC 2018 - New Orleans, United States
Duration: Apr 2 2018Apr 4 2018

Other

OtherConstruction Research Congress 2018: Sustainable Design and Construction and Education, CRC 2018
CountryUnited States
CityNew Orleans
Period4/2/184/4/18

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction

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  • Cite this

    Rios, F. C., Grau Torrent, D., & Chong, O. (2018). Steel or Wood Frame? A Life Cycle Comparison of External Wall Systems through Deconstruction and Reuse. In Construction Research Congress 2018: Sustainable Design and Construction and Education - Selected Papers from the Construction Research Congress 2018 (Vol. 2018-April, pp. 482-492). American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). https://doi.org/10.1061/9780784481301.048