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Date of Award

Spring 2024

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Department or Program Affiliation

Environmental Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Sifuentes, Froylan

Second Advisor

Barnhart, Charles

Third Advisor

Ashtiani, Milad Zokaei


Buildings have a monumental impact on the environment and the economy and account for about 40% of energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and materials entering the economy. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a tool for quantitatively evaluating the environmental impacts of a product throughout its life span commonly applied in the building and construction sector. While past efforts have focused on reducing operational energy and carbon, attention has shifted towards embodied energy and carbon as buildings become more energy efficient. This graduate thesis applies the LCA framework and investigates the life cycle environmental impacts of a hemp-based thermal insulation panel under two end-of-life (EoL) scenarios: landfilling and incineration with energy recovery. This study focuses on the cumulative energy demand (CED) and global warming potential (GWP) impact categories representing embodied energy and carbon.

The findings of this study reveal that while incineration would have many environmental benefits over landfilling, it would contribute more to global warming since hemp releases the carbon stored in the biomass when burned. Thus, landfilling emerges as the preferable EoL treatment option from a climate change perspective. Under the landfilling scenario, the total GWP and CED are 1.06 kg CO2-eq and 90.5 MJ or 61.5 MJ, not including the energy harnessed via photosynthesis per square meter of insulation product with a thermal resistance of 1 RSI [m2·K/W]. Furthermore, this study identifies the life cycle stages and processes driving environmental degradation and offers strategies for product decarbonization and supply chain optimization.




bio-based, biogenic carbon, building material, end-of-life, embodied carbon, embodied energy, LCA, life cycle analysis, life cycle assessment, sustainable, thermal insulation


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subject – LCSH

Building materials--Environmental aspects; Nanostructured materials; Insulation (Heat); Sustainable construction; Buildings--Environmental engineering; Sustainable design




masters theses




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