3.1 Structure of the guidance document

This guidance document is structured in two parts: one dedicated to the LCA of building products, and the other to the LCA of buildings. Both documents contain a general section covering the implementation of study types, and guidance on how to conduct LCA studies in general. Within the general section, and within sections for the various life cycle modules, important aspects that require consideration when conducting an LCA study are noted, along with provisions and guidance on these aspects. Some of these aspects are common to products and buildings, but others are specific to either products or buildings.

Within the context of this document, the word ‘building product’ is used for everything that is not a whole building (e.g. building parts, elements, components, products, services).

Also, in this guidance no specific definition is given for an energy-efficient building. Generally speaking, it corresponds to the current best practice in Europe, reflected by energy-efficient labels such as Passivhaus in Germany, BBC-Effinergie in France, or the new thermal regulation (e.g. RT 2012 in France). As a result, the aspects defined in EeBGuide apply for all kinds of energy-efficient building in Europe.

Each document is structured according to the life cycle stages of a building from cradle to grave, as given in the EN 15804 and EN 15978 standards, and shown in Table 2. The conventional terms used in EN 15804 and EN 15978 reflect one possible way to depict the building life cycle. For example, the standard chose to exclude Module D (accounting for the recycling potential) from the system boundary of a building. This should be interpreted only as a conventional term. Under the specific goal and scope of a study (e.g. design for recycling LCA studies), the use of Module D or other modelling scope may be needed if relevant. However, the EeBGuide partners believe that it makes sense to follow the conventional terms in EN 15804 and EN 15978 for describing the life cycle of a building or a product, in order not to reinvent or redefine such aspects.

 

Table 2: Modular information for the different stages of the building assessment, according to EN 15978 and EN 15804

Building assessment information

Life cycle stage modules Description
Building life cycle information PRODUCT stage A1 Raw material supply
A2 Transport
A3 Manufacturing
CONSTRUCTION PROCESS stage A4 Transport
A5 Construction, installation processes-installation-process
USE stage B1 Use
B2 Maintenance
B3 Repair
B4 Replacement
B5 Refurbishment
B6 Operational energy use
B7 Operational water use
End-of-life stage C1 Deconstruction, demolition
C2 Transport
C3 Waste processing
C4 Disposal
Supplementary information Benefits and loads beyond the system boundary D Reuse, recovery and/or recycling potential

 

The guidance document uses a substructure for the general aspects common to both levels (products and buildings) that corresponds to the usual LCA framework – goal and scope definition, life cycle inventory analysis (LCI), life cycle impact assessment (LCIA), interpretation, reporting – according to the ISO 14040 and ISO 14044 standards as well as the ILCD Handbook. This structure helps experienced users who are not directly familiar with the EN 15804/EN 15978 structure to navigate quickly through the document.

For each important aspect defined in the EeBGuide (see section 2.1), a template reporting the relevant information is provided. It includes the description of the aspect, the rules from EN 15804/EN 15978, the ILCD Handbook and other sources (if relevant), and the main provisions and guidance. Table 3 presents the different parts of the template.

Table 3: Example of the template document for each important aspect in the EeBGuide

Overview of the template for reporting each important aspect
Name of the aspect
Description of the aspect
Related study objective – stand-alone LCA
– comparative assertion
Related study phase – goal and scope definition
– life cycle inventory (LCI) analysis
–life cycle impact assessment (LCIA)
– interpretation
– reporting
Relevant for (study type) – screening LCA
– simplified LCA
– complete LCA
Relevant for (product/building) – new buildings
– existing buildings
– building products
Provisions
Rules from – EN 15978
– EN 15804
– ILCD Handbook
– ISO 14044
Guidance

For improved orientation, icons are used for assisting navigation through the document; these are listed in Table 4.

Table 4: Description of the icons used

Description of icons
Icon Meaning
  Description of the aspect:
The aspect of concern is described, and the critical points are highlighted; typical questions within this context may be provided.
  Provision on the aspect:
How to address the aspect of concern is given here.
  Reference to standards or reference document:
Further references to standards such as ISO 14040, ISO 14044, EN 15978 or EN 15804 as well as the ILCD Handbook are provided.
  Guidance on the aspect:
Guidance is given on aspects for which there is no single solution, or where additional explanations are helpful.
  General:
Aspects that do not relate to a single life cycle stage, but cover several stages or are independent of individual life cycle stages, are grouped in the ‘General’ section.
  Life cycle stage A according to CEN TC 350 (EN 15804 and EN 15978):
Aspects that relate to life cycle stage A (product and construction) are grouped here.
  Life cycle stage B according to CEN TC 350 (EN 15804 and EN 15978):
Aspects that relate to life cycle stage B (use) are grouped here.
  Life cycle stage C according to CEN TC 350 (EN 15804 and EN 15978):
Aspects that relate to life cycle stage C (end of life) are grouped here.
  Module D according to CEN TC 350 (EN 15804 and EN 15978):
Aspects that relate to issues beyond the life cycle studied (benefits and loads beyond the system boundaries) are grouped here.
  New buildings:
Aspects that relate to new buildings are mentioned here.
  Existing buildings:
Aspects that relate to existing buildings are mentioned here.
  Products:
Aspects that relate to products, materials, components and services are mentioned here.
  Screening:
Aspects are sorted by the study type that they apply to. This icon symbolizes whether an aspect is important for a screening LCA (see Table 5 for the definition of ‘screening’).
  Simplified:
Aspects are sorted by the study type that they apply to. This icon symbolizes whether an aspect is important for a simplified LCA (see Table 5 for the definition of ‘simplified’).
  Complete:
Aspects are sorted by the study type that they apply to. This icon symbolizes whether an aspect is important for a complete LCA (see Table 5 for the definition of ‘complete’).
  Applicable:
If the icon has a black background, the aspect is relevant for that scope (e.g. the aspect is relevant for new buildings).
  Can be applied:
If the icon has a grey background, the definition can be relevant for that aspect (e.g. the aspect is applicable to existing buildings, but if needed can also be applied to new buildings).
  Not applicable:
If the icon has a grey background and is crossed, the definition is not relevant for that aspect (e.g. aspect does not concern new buildings).

 

Every aspect consists of four parts. First it is briefly described, and the main issue is explained. Then, wherever possible, a provision is given for the issue relating to the aspect. This refers mainly to the European standards (EN 15978, EN 15804) or the ILCD Handbook. This provision is mandatory for European research projects, but if applied in other contexts, it provision can serve as guidance or an information source. Then links to further literature are provided for every aspect, and finally operational guidance is given for every problematic aspect.


3     How to use this guidance document


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