On the necessity of improving the environmental impacts of furniture and appliances in net-zero energy buildings

Sci Total Environ. 2017 Oct 15:596-597:405-416. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.03.107. Epub 2017 Apr 25.


There is now clear evidence regarding the extensive use of furniture and appliances in daily human life, but there is less evidence of their impact on the environment. Responding to this gap in knowledge, this study focuses on an assessment of the environmental impacts of furniture and appliances as used in highly energy efficient buildings. Their primary energy, non-renewable energy and global warming potential indicators have been assessed by extending the boundaries of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study beyond the building itself. In conclusion, we found that furniture and appliances were responsible for around 30% of greenhouse gas emissions and non-renewable energy consumption and 15% of primary energy consumption comparing to the overall impacts of the building. Since embodied impacts represent the largest values, the process for labelling the appliances' energy efficiency should encompass a life-cycle point of view, not just a usage point of view as the case currently. Among office appliances, computer equipment was ranked as the highest impacting element, especially laptops and monitors. As for domestic appliances, refrigerators and electric ovens had the biggest impacts. Concerning furniture, the greatest impacts were from office and kitchen cabinets.

Keywords: Appliances; Furniture; Life cycle assessment (LCA); Net-zero energy building (NZEB).

MeSH terms

  • Conservation of Energy Resources*
  • Environment*
  • Global Warming
  • Greenhouse Gases / analysis*
  • Interior Design and Furnishings*


  • Greenhouse Gases