G-29 (Buildings) / G-27 (Products) Abiotic resources depletion indicator

Aspect G-29 (Buildings) / G-27 (Products) Abiotic resources depletion indicator
In LCA, different indicators can be used for assessing the use of resources. These can be based on a thermodynamic approach (use of energy or exergy indicators), on a mass flow approach (use of a total mass requirement indicator), on a surplus of energy that will be needed for future extractions (ecoindicator approach), or on a scarcity approach (use of the ADP indicator developed at CML Leiden). According to the ILCD Handbook, the CML method uses the abiotic depletion potential (ADP), given in kg of antimony equivalents, to be multiplied by the amount of a given resource extracted. For ADP, the annual production of the resource (the extraction rate) is divided by the reserves squared, and the result is divided by the same ratio for the reference resource, antimony [ILCD, 2011a]. The CEN TC 350 standards recommend using the ADP indicator, but different forms of APD can be used, depending on the type of reserve and the available extraction rates.Which indicator and assumptions should be applied in this guidance document?

related study objective

stand-alone LCA comparative assertion

related study phase

goal and scope definition inventory analysis (LCI) impact assessment (LCIA) interpretation reporting

relevant for

new buildings existing buildings building products screening LCA simplified LCA complete LCA
Provisions Adopt the provision of the indicators and methodology mentioned in EN 15978 and EN 15804 (‘Depletion of abiotic resources-elements’ and ‘Depletion of abiotic resources-fossil fuels’). EN 15804 refers to CML (Institute of Environmental Sciences Faculty of Science University of Leiden, Netherlands) as the characterization factor for ADP (elements and fossil), and the characterization factors for ADP fossil fuels are based on net calorific values at the point of extraction of the fossil fuels.
Rules from:
EN 15978:
12.5 List of indicators used for assessment and expression of results
11.1.2 Indicators describing environmental impacts
EN 15804:

6.5 Impact assessment
7.2.3 Parameters describing environmental impacts
8 Life cycle impact assessment – calculating LCIA results
Provisions: 8.2 Calculation of LCIA results
ILCD Handbook – Part – Analysing of existing environmental impact assessment methodologies for use in life cycle assessment

4.11 Resource depletion

 “For some impact categories, many alternative methods have been selected. This can be seen as a sign that there is no clear consensus on how to model such a method. Clear examples are acidification, eutrophication, land use and resources.”

ILCD Handbook: Recommendations for life cycle impact assessment in the European context

3.11. Resources depletion

3.11.7 Recommended default method for category 2

“The CML method is recommended in the ILCD framework since it captures scarcity by including extraction as well as reserves of a given resource. Characterization factors are given for metals, fossil fuels and, in the case of reserve base and economic reserves, mineral compounds [Oers 2002]. In addition, the method covers most of the substances/materials identified as critical by the European Commission’s Ad-hoc Working Group on defining critical raw materials (European Commission 2010).”

[Oers 2002] give characterization factors for economic reserves, reserve base, and ultimate reserves. The characterization factors given for the reserve base are recommended, as this reflects a longer time horizon and the possibility of improvement in mining technology, making feasible the exploitation of previously sub-economic deposits.

Practitioners should keep in mind that for the LCIA indicator ‘Abiotic depletion’ there is a methodology available that provides different assumptions regarding the estimate of reserves, i.e. ultimate, base or economic [Guinée 2001], [Oers 2002].So far, EN 15804 and EN 15978 do not specify which kinds of reserve should be considered for the ADP calculation. Over the past few years, most LCA or EPD data have reported the ADP (both fossil and elements) based on ultimate reserves according to [Guinée 2001]. Recently, the ILCD Handbook released the report ‘Recommendations for life cycle impact assessment in the European context’ (First edition, December 2010) [EC 2011]. In this guide, it recommended that the base reserve be used for the ADP calculation for all the elements (aluminium, copper, etc.). This guidance will be updated when EN 15804 and EN 15978 are revised.The ADP (fossil or elements) characterization factors based upon the CML 2002 method can be downloaded from: http://cml.leiden.edu/research/industrialecology/researchprojects/finished/new-dutch-lca-guide.html. In addition, another link provides the latest version of the characterization factors for the CML 2002 impact categories: http://cml.leiden.edu/software/data-cmlia.html.In the construction sector, such an indicator (ADP) may be adapted to take into account the local depletion of resources such as gravel. This is still a research topic but more information can be found in recent scientific papers, e.g. [Habert 2009]

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