Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon Research Station ART, CH-8356 Ettenhausen

Environmental impact of agricultural buildings

Life-cycle assessments (LCAs) are based on numerous databases in the energy, transport, waste disposal, chemicals, agricultural processes and facilities spheres. Agroscope Reckenholz-Tänikon Research Station ART has expanded the data specifically pertaining to agriculture in the ‘buildings’ sphere. The comparison of four different dairy barns shows that by opting for a multi-building loose-housing system in a simple design, the environmental impacts in the ‘buildings’ input group can be reduced to a good quarter (energy demand, global warming potential) to a good half (terrestrial ecotoxicity according to the Centrum voor Milieukunde, Leiden) of those of an isolated tied-housing system. From the results, it is evident that it is not just the quantity but the type of materials which exerts a major influence on the level of environmental impacts. In individual-farm LCAs, buildings for the three types of farms with animal husbandry investigated contribute 11 to 17 per cent of the ‘environmental impact’ energy requirement. Consequently, they represent one of the most important input groups in addition to the primary energy carriers and the purchase of feedstuffs and livestock by pigs/poultry farm types.

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