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

MSc. Thesis by Jonas van der Ham

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

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