G-30 (Buildings) / G-28 (Products) Land use indicator

Aspect G-30 (Buildings) / G-28 (Products) Land use indicator
Land-use change is linked to human activities such as the exploitation of land for agricultural, industrial, residential, recreational, or other purposes. Currently, several LCIA methods exist, providing both midpoint and endpoint characterization factors. According to the ILCD Handbook, the midpoint characterization factor for land use, in the earliest stage of the cause–effect chain, is usually taken as the amount and quality deficit of land occupied or transformed. Some midpoint methods use indicators such as soil structure, soil pH or soil organic carbon. The endpoint characterization factor refers mostly to the quantity of species lost due to land use, or to the change in net primary production (NPP) of the land used [ILCD 2011a].Based on these different approaches, should a land-use indicator be included in the LCA of a product or a building?

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 Land use should not be included as a mandatory indicator, as there is currently no agreed scientific method available (as also mentioned in the EN 15804 and EN 15978 standards). Yet, if the goal and scope of the study mention the use of an LCIA indicator for land use, then the indicator that is used for the assessment needs to be described and referenced.
Rules from:
EN 15978:
11. Calculation of the environmental indicators
“Note: Indicators for which there is no scientifically agreed calculation method within the context of LCA e.g. human health, ecotoxicity, biodiversity, land use are not included”
8 Life CYCLE IMPACT ASSESSMENT – calculating LCIA results
Provisions: 8.2 Calculation of LCIA results
13 Annex B: Calculation of CO2 emissions from land transformation
ILCD Handbook: Analysing of existing environmental impact assessment methodologies for use in life cycle assessment
“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

3.10 Land use

Existing methods for land use that can be used at the midpoint level include: [Baitz 2002] which was further developed by [Bos 2008], [Milà I Canals 2007], [De Schryver 2009] and [Beck 2010].

If land-use change is intended to be assessed, it is recommended that recent LCA literature be consulted to identify a feasible and appropriate indicator. Such literature may include:– the analysis of available existing LCIA methods for land use provided by the ILCD Handbook (report available online: http://lct.jrc.ec.europa.eu/pdf-directory/ILCD-Handbook-LCIA-Background-analysis-online-12March2010.pdf);– the results of the UNEP/SETAC working group on ‘Operational Characterization Factors for Land Use in Life Cycle Impact Assessment’ (LULCIA) [Beck 2010]several publications in the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, such as a recent paper on the ‘Principles of inventory of land use on a global scale’ [Koellner 2012].This aspect will need to be revised when an approved method is available.

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