Life-Cycle Assessment and the Environmental Impact of Buildings: A Review

Posted by Joris NHAUX
Type: 
Full LCA not available on the web
Comparative: 
yes
Publication year: 
2009
Language: 
English
Code: 
Construction/Building
Product: 
Buildings
Quality and sources
Is the study a: 
Quick LCA
Was a critical review performed?: 
No
Is the study compliant with ISO 14044?: 
Yes
Sponsor name(s): 
Syrian Ministry of Higher Education
Sponsor name(s): 
Aleppo University
Sponsor type: 
Public administration
Practitioner(s): 
Mohamad Monkiz Khasreen Phillip F.G. Banfill
Practitioner(s): 
Phillip F.G. Banfill
Practitioner(s): 
Gillian F. Menzies
Practitioner(s) type: 
University
Summary
Functional unit: 
Whole process of construction of a building
Goal and scope of the summary: 
To make general conclusion about the use of LCA in order to improve the impact of building construction.

The emissions in each impact category are normalized by comparing them to those emitted by the average European citizen in one year, thus producing a single dimensionless number for each category. This number is multiplied by a weighting factor (referred to as a valuation factor in ISO 14040) obtained by consulting a panel of 10 experts [74,75] and the numbers so produced are totaled and scaled to 100. Thus the environmental impacts are scored according to their perceived importance, with the highest proportion (21.6%) allocated to CO2-equivalent emissions, water extraction next at 11.7%, then others down to 3.0% for eutrophication, 0.20% for photochemical ozone creation and the lowest proportion (0.05%) to acidification. [...]
This approach is subjective and the normalization and weighting process is variable both in time and across geographical boundaries. [...]
A full LCA of a product provides useful and accurate information, but is costly and time consuming, while using generic data and information in a specialized application could lead to a wrong choice. [...]
Finally, all of the studies reviewed were carried out in developed countries and no published papers analyzing the environmental impact of buildings in developing countries have been found. In view of the vast potential for building construction in the less developed world, this should be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Material impact(s): 
Global warming
Raw material impact level: 
High
Manufacturing impact(s): 
Water consumption
Manufacturing impact level: 
High
Usage impact level: 
Low
End of life impact(s): 
Waste generation
End of life impact level: 
High

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