Life cycle assessment and optimization-based decision analysis of construction waste recycling for a LEED-certified university building

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Sustainability (Switzerland), ISSN: 2071-1050, Vol: 8, Issue: 1, Page: 1-13

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Kucukvar, Murat; Egilmez, Gokhan; Tatari, Omer
Social Sciences; Energy; Environmental Science; multi-criteria decision analysis; economic input-output analysis; life cycle assessment; construction waste management; LEED; Industrial Engineering; Mechanical Engineering
article description
The current waste management literature lacks a comprehensive LCA of the recycling of construction materials that considers both process and supply chain-related impacts as a whole. Furthermore, an optimization-based decision support framework has not been also addressed in any work, which provides a quantifiable understanding about the potential savings and implications associated with recycling of construction materials from a life cycle perspective. The aim of this research is to present a multi-criteria optimization model, which is developed to propose economically-sound and environmentally-benign construction waste management strategies for a LEED-certified university building. First, an economic input-output-based hybrid life cycle assessment model is built to quantify the total environmental impacts of various waste management options: recycling, conventional landfilling and incineration. After quantifying the net environmental pressures associated with these waste treatment alternatives, a compromise programming model is utilized to determine the optimal recycling strategy considering environmental and economic impacts, simultaneously. The analysis results show that recycling of ferrous and non-ferrous metals significantly contributed to reductions in the total carbon footprint of waste management. On the other hand, recycling of asphalt and concrete increased the overall carbon footprint due to high fuel consumption and emissions during the crushing process. Based on the multi-criteria optimization results, 100% recycling of ferrous and non-ferrous metals, cardboard, plastic and glass is suggested to maximize the environmental and economic savings, simultaneously. We believe that the results of this research will facilitate better decision making in treating construction and debris waste for LEED-certified green buildings by combining the results of environmental LCA with multi-objective optimization modeling.