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Abstract - This article describes a proposed protocol that is intended to provide a comprehensive list of factors to be considered in evaluating the direct and indirect environmental impacts of building insulation materials, as well as detailed descriptions of standardized calculation methodologies to determine those impacts. The energy and environmental impacts of insulation materials can generally be divided into two categories: (1) direct impact due to the embodied energy of the insulation materials and other factors and (2) indirect or environmental impacts avoided as a result of reduced building energy use due to addition of insulation. Standards and product category rules exist, which provide guidelines about the life cycle assessment (LCA) of materials, including building insulation products. However, critical reviews have suggested that these standards fail to provide complete guidance to LCA studies and suffer from ambiguities regarding the determination of the environmental impacts of building insulation and other products. The focus of the assessment protocol described here is to identify all factors that contribute to the total energy and environmental impacts of different building insulation products and, more importantly, provide standardized determination methods that will allow comparison of different insulation material types. Further, the intent is not to replace current LCA standards but to provide a well-defined, easy-to-use comparison method for insulation materials using existing LCA guidelines.
Shrestha, S. S., K. Biswas, & A. O. Desjarlais (2014) A protocol for lifetime energy and environmental impact assessment of building insulation materials, Environmental Impact Assessment Review 46: 25-31.