Life Cycle Assessment: Methods and Tools to Achieve Sustainable Decarbonization and Circular Economy in the Building Sector

A special issue of Environments (ISSN 2076-3298).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 September 2024 | Viewed by 286

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Architecture, Built environment and Construction Engineering (ABC), Politecnico di Milano, 20133 Milan, Italy
Interests: sustainability at building and product level; life cycle assessment; circular economy; resource efficiency; design for reversibility; reuse and recycling

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Architecture, Built environment and Construction Engineering (ABC), Politecnico di Milano, 20133 Milan, Italy
Interests: sustainability and sustainable buildings; sustainable construction and building materials; construction methods and techniques; life cycle as-sessment; green building rating systems; circular economy
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
EnergyVille / KU Leuven / VITO, Genk, Belgium
Interests: life cycle assessment; life cycle costing; sustainable buildings; building stock modeling

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

At the European level, the building sector accounts for approximately 50% of all material extraction and 37.5% of total waste production. Furthermore, it is responsible for 40% of the primary energy demand in the EU and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Reducing the impact of the building sector is, therefore, a priority for achieving the environmental goals related to decarbonization and the circular economy.

In this context, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a well-established method that allows for the assessment of the potential environmental impacts caused throughout the building life cycle and, consequently, the definition of strategies to achieve environmental sustainability.

LCA in the building sector can be applied at different scale levels: the entire building, the building element, and the building component. It involves multiple and different stakeholders in the building value chain.

Recently, LCA has been increasingly applied within legislation, such as building codes and regulations, and within Green Public Procurements to ensure lower environmental impacts over the whole building life cycle. Moreover, LCA can be useful to support the definition of policies to reduce the impact of the built environment, for example, by modeling the entire building stock and evaluating the current situation and impact reduction scenarios.

During the building design phase, LCA can be used to compare different design choices (e.g., refurbishment vs. demolition and new construction) and different types of materials or building solutions (e.g., reversible vs. traditional solutions). Furthermore, it is useful for comparing end-of-life scenarios (e.g., reuse, remanufacturing, recycling) to promote resource efficiency and sustainable waste treatment.

The development of LCA tools and software is essential to making the methodology applicable in building practice. To increase their application, these tools should be compatible with Building Information Modeling and other tools such as Material Passports, pre-demolition audits, and digital web platforms for material traceability.

Furthermore, the quality of environmental data is essential to achieving a robust assessment. The development of generic LCI databases of building materials as well as the dissemination of EPDs (Environmental Product Declarations) are therefore fundamental.

Finally, the definition of LCA benchmarks or reference values is important to compare and position the obtained LCA results, to support the implementation of environmental policies, and to stimulate competitiveness in the market.

This Special Issue aims to gather original contributions and review articles focusing on the application of LCA in the building sector regarding the following:

  • LCA to support policies and regulations;
  • LCA as a design support tool to reduce the building life cycle impact;
  • Development of LCI and EPD databases to improve data quality.

References

Andersen, S. C., Birgisdottir, H., & Birkved, M. (2022). Life Cycle Assessments of Circular Economy in the Built Environment—A Scoping Review. Sustainability (Switzerland) (Vol. 14, Issue 11). https://doi.org/10.3390/su14116887

De Wolf, C., Cordella, M., Dodd, N., Byers, B., & Donatello, S. (2023). Whole life cycle environmental impact assessment of buildings: Developing software tool and database support for the EU framework Level(s). Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 188. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2022.106642

Eberhardt, L. C. M., Birgisdóttir, H., & Birkved, M. (2019). Life cycle assessment of a Danish office building designed for disassembly. Building Research and Information, 47(6). https://doi.org/10.1080/09613218.2018.1517458

Lavagna, M., Baldassarri, C., Campioli, A., Giorgi, S., Dalla Valle, A., Castellani, V., & Sala, S. (2018). Benchmarks for environmental impact of housing in Europe: Definition of archetypes and LCA of the residential building stock. Building and Environment, 145. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2018.09.008

Obrecht, T. P., Jordan, S., Legat, A., Ruschi Mendes Saade, M., & Passer, A. (2021). An LCA methodolody for assessing the environmental impacts of building components before and after refurbishment. Journal of Cleaner Production, 327. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2021.129527

Ramon, D., Allacker, K., Trigaux, D., Wouters, H., & van Lipzig, N. P. M. (2023). Dynamic modelling of operational energy use in a building LCA: A case study of a Belgian office building. Energy and Buildings, 278. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enbuild.2022.112634

Röck, M., Baldereschi, E., Verellen, E., Passer, A., Sala, S., & Allacker, K. (2021). Environmental modelling of building stocks – An integrated review of life cycle-based assessment models to support EU policy making. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews (Vol. 151). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2021.111550

Röck, M., Hollberg, A., Habert, G., & Passer, A. (2018). LCA and BIM: Visualization of environmental potentials in building construction at early design stages. Building and Environment, 140. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2018.05.006

Dr. Serena Giorgi
Dr. Monica Lavagna
Dr. Damien Trigaux
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • life cycle assessment
  • decarbonization
  • circular economy
  • building environmental regulations and policies
  • resource efficiency
  • life cycle design
  • sustainable building end-of-life
  • life cycle tools and software
  • LCI and EPD databases

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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