Net zero energy barns for industrial egg production: An effective sustainable intensification strategy?

Li, Yang, Allacker, Karen, Feng, Haibo, Heidari, Mohammad Davoud and Pelletier, Nathan (2021) Net zero energy barns for industrial egg production: An effective sustainable intensification strategy? Journal of Cleaner Production, 316. p. 128014. ISSN 0959-6526

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Net zero energy buildings (NZEBs) are energy efficient buildings that incorporate renewable energy generation systems so as to produce sufficient renewable energy to at least offset the total amount of non-renewable energy used by the building on an annual basis. NZEB technologies have widespread commercial and residential application, but their feasibility and efficacy in the livestock sector in support of sustainable intensification have received little attention. This study quantifies the potential for such technologies to improve sustainability outcomes in the livestock sector based on an ISO 14044-compliant life cycle assessment of a pilot net zero energy laying hen facility in Alberta, Canada compared to a conventional facility. It was found that direct energy inputs account for 6.47% and 31.64% of the life cycle cumulative energy use of egg production in NZE and non-NZE hen housing, respectively. Average infrastructure-related contributions to the life cycle impacts of egg production are only 4.34% and 1.94% for the NZE and non-NZE barns, but NZE technologies reduce the net impacts of egg production by 0.89–64.82%. The environmental impact payback time for the NZE barn (30-year lifespan) ranges from 1.38 to 20.66 years, considering the largely fossil fuel-based electricity grid in Alberta, which indicates that non-trivial environmental benefits would accrue across impact categories considered. However, this could vary considerably elsewhere depending on the types and amounts of green energy utilized in regional grid mixes. The type and availability of renewable energy resources that are integrated into NZE barns will similarly be important in determining the potential of such technologies to support sustainable intensification in this sector.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Livestock production, Net zero energy buildings, Direct energy use, Renewable energy, Life cycle assessment, Environmental impact payback time
Subjects: D600 Food and Beverage studies
H800 Chemical, Process and Energy Engineering
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Mechanical and Construction Engineering
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2021 08:10
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2022 15:00

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