1.3.1 Previous European projects on LCA of buildings

Several European projects dealing with LCA and buildings have been conducted over the past few years. Most of them were aimed at adapting the methodological rules for LCA studies in the construction sector and enabling the development of user-friendly tools that can be used by building stakeholders, who are usually not LCA experts. These projects included, for example, REGENER, Annex 31 IEA, PRESCO, IMPRO-Building, ENSLIC Building and LoRe-LCA.

Two previous projects conducted under the Seventh Framework Programme (ENSLIC-Building and LoRe-LCA) may be seen as closely connected with the goals and scope of the EeBGuide project. These two projects have helped to define LCA methodology for the construction sector, and have identified needs for further research. Below are presented the citations from the projects’ websites.

“The ENSLIC project (ENergy Saving through promotion of Life Cycle assessment in buildings) promotes the use of life cycle assessment (LCA) techniques in design for new buildings and for refurbishment, in order to achieve an energy saving in the construction and operation of buildings. This action draw on the existing information generated from previous research projects regarding: design for low energy consumption, integrated planning, environmental performance evaluation of buildings, design for sustainability and LCA techniques applied to buildings. The output – compiled with the collaboration of key target groups – is a set of guidelines with a methodology which clarifies the various aspects of the LCA, e.g. purpose, benefits, requirements, flexibility and different techniques. This is applied to real buildings by a number of collaborating target groups. The results are disseminated to a wide target group through multiple channels and the potential for energy saving highlighted. Through this project tools for use in an integral planning process are being promoted to stakeholders who require a means to optimize environmental performance of buildings in a truly sustainable way.” [ENSLIC 2011]

“LoRe-LCA (“Low Resource consumption buildings and constructions by use of LCA in design and decision making”) aims to coordinate activities regarding the application of LCA in the European construction sector, focusing on comparing and improving the functional units used for LCA for whole buildings, improving the possibilities to compare results for different alternatives during design stage, and for comparison of results for different buildings. The project focuses on harmonisation and use of LCA-methods in design and decision-making for reaching overall goals of reduced resource consumption.” [LoRe-LCA 2011]

Another interesting initiative covering European countries and some others is the Sustainable Building Alliance (SBA). Officially created in 2008, the SBA is a collaboration between international research institutes, certification bodies and other actors in the building industry. The main research action of SBA aims at answering the need of the real estate and construction industry for the development and application of harmonized common metrics for assessing building performance, to be implemented in existing certification schemes. A draft Framework for Common Metrics was elaborated in 2009 and 2010 by a core group of SBA members. It covered six main impacts, which included four environmental indicators based on LCA methodology: these deal with energy, water, greenhouse gases (GHG) and waste. The next step was to ensure the operational feasibility and comparability of LCA results for buildings, especially in terms of calculation rules, Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) databases, life cycle stages and considered contributors (i.e. all the factors that are considered in an LCA). This was done in 2011, when the availability and maturity of methods, data and tools were studied. The SBA Common Metrics Framework was pilot-tested on real buildings to analyse its applicability, and possible future integration into existing certification rating schemes. This work has involved seven research and certification bodies in five European countries and in the USA. The working group highlighted the fact that the availability of homogeneous EPDs in each country is a crucial issue. The comparability of LCA environmental indicators is being tested in 2012 through a modelling study in each country, based on a single building design.

In these previous projects, no comprehensive guidance was given in a structured way according to the LCA steps as defined in ISO 14040 and the life cycle stages of the new European standards from CEN TC 350.

1     Introduction

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