Life cycle assessment of alternative Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems for egg production in Canada.

Main Presenter:    Leandra Vanbaelinghem 

Co-Authors:   Vivek Arulnathan     Nathan Pelletier                                          

Industrial egg production is amongst the most rapidly expanding livestock sectors worldwide. Accordingly, ameliorating sustainability outcomes in the industrial egg sector is critical. Most non-renewable energy use in poultry house operations is consumed by heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Alternative HVAC systems, such as ground source heat pumps (GSHP) and earth-air heat exchangers (EAHE), have been well studied for commercial and residential applications, but an understanding of their feasibility and mitigation potential in the livestock sector remains limited. This study quantifies the potential for GSHPs and EAHEs to improve sustainability outcomes in layer hen poultry houses. An ISO 14044-compliant life cycle assessment of a case study poultry house using a GSHP in Quebec, Canada, is compared to a theoretical conventional natural gas HVAC system and an EAHE with a conventional natural gas system as a backup. It was found that environmental burdens
associated with the different HVAC scenarios varied across Canadian province electrical grid mix inputs. GSHPs are electricity-driven systems and are found to provide environmental benefits in greener electricity grids and provide no or less environmental benefits in non-renewable energy-driven electrical grids. EAHEs were found to offer environmental benefits across all provinces’ electrical grids. For Quebec and British Columbia, which have a high proportion of hydro energy in their electrical grid, GSHPs reduced the impact of conventional HVACs between 16.5%-95.1% for Quebec and 4.5%-74.7% for British Columbia across the same ten impact categories, however, a burden increase between 4.7%-20.9% for Quebec and 19.2-31% for British Columbia was found across the same four impact categories. EAHEs reduced the impacts of conventional HVACs across all impact categories by 21.8%-52.2% and 7.7%-40.3% per province, respectively. Alberta and Nova Scotia currently have electrical grids driven
by fossil-fuel-based energy, where GSHP does not show environmental benefits over conventional systems, but EAHEs do. GSHPs showed an increase in burden between 9.8%-34.2% and 1.3%-33.1% compared to conventional HVACs across 10 of the 14 impact categories investigated. EAHEs showed an impact reduction between 3.6%-42.4% and 2.6%-36% from conventional systems across all impact categories for Alberta and Nova Scotia, respectively. In Ontario, which has an electrical grid driven by nuclear energy, GSHPs provided burden reduction across nine impact categories, between 7.3%-74.5% compared to conventional systems, but an increase in burden between 0.9%-36% was seen for five impact categories. Nevertheless, EAHEs provided impact reductions between 0.8%-44% from conventional systems across all impact categories in Ontario.

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