MSc. Thesis - The Global Warming Impact of Applying Bio-Based Insulation Materials in Residential High-Rises in Amsterdam

In light of the changing climate and the need for urban densification in the Netherlands, this study analyzes the potential global warming impact (GWI) of implementing bio-based insulation materials (BBIMs) in high-rises in Ams- terdam. A literature and market review led to the identification of straw, grass, hemp, flax, wood-fiber, and cellulose insulation as the most relevant BBIMs in the Dutch context because of local availability and potential scalability. From an expert interview on fire-safety constraints of BBIMs, it was concluded that a 12 mm layer of gypsum fiberboard is needed to ensure fire safety in high-rise buildings for insulation materials which do not meet fire-safety class A1/A2. The GWI of the BBIMs was compared with stone wool, glass wool, expanded polystyrene (EPS) and extruded polystyrene (XPS) through a dynamic Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). The results consistently demonstrated optimal GWI performance for the plant-based BBIMs, while XPS and cellulose typi- cally had the highest GWI. In a building case study, cumulative radiative forc- ing values between 1.61e−8 W m−2 yr (cellulose) and −1.66e−8 W m−2 yr (straw) were found in 2222. For the insulation of all 97.500 residential high- rise buildings which are to be built in Amsterdam until 2050, these values were 2.50e−6 W m−2 yr (XPS) and −2.59e−6 W m−2 yr (straw). Annual emissions savings of up to 587 tons of CO2-equivalents were projected when switching from XPS to straw insulation. In working towards its 2050 climate neutrality goals, the city of Amsterdam is advised to stimulate the implementa- tion of BBIMs in all buildings, focusing on straw, grass and hemp in prefabri- cated façades.

Source: TUD & WUR