1.2.2 Scope of this guidance

This guidance is focused on LCA studies of buildings and building products within the framework of the Energy-Efficient Building European Initiative (E2B EI), which creates technologies for an energy-efficient Europe. LCA assesses the environmental loads and performance of these new products and technologies, demonstrated mainly within building applications. LCA is used within European research projects on matters of energy efficiency in the construction sector that are managed under the E2B EI umbrella. The main aim of this guidance is to provide rules and instructions on how to conduct LCA studies consistently within such research projects.

A variety of questions, aspects and topics often arise during such an LCA study, but the answers in the literature and standards are often not coherent, or sufficiently extensive. The key objective of this guide is therefore to provide information on definitions, calculation rules, assumptions and comparative results of LCA studies for energy-efficient buildings and building products with regard to such aspects.

The guidance is based on existing ISO standards on LCA [ISO 14040-44], European standards [EN 15804] and [EN 15978] with regard to LCA, and other reference documents [ILCD 2010a], [ILCD 2010b], [ILCD 2010c], as well as on current discussion topics within the LCA construction community. It brings this information together in one comprehensive guide. It also clarifies aspects that are not totally consistent or may even be contradictory in the various LCA-related standards and reference documents, as well as those aspects that are generally not specified.

There are two main approaches to LCA studies: attributional and consequential. Attributional LCA studies generally do not investigate the potential consequences of a product system for the background system or for other systems (the ILCD Handbook denotes this as decision context situation A). By contrast, consequential LCA studies do investigate those consequences (decision context situation B in the ILCD Handbook). In section G-02, guidance is given on how to identify the decision context of a study. In general, this guidance document is limited to the case of attributional LCA studies. This is consistent with CEN standards EN 15804 and EN 15978, which are limited solely to this case.

For consequential LCA studies, various scientific aspects are yet to be clarified, and a broad scientific consensus on the different aspects is yet to be reached. If a practitioner identifies the need to conduct a consequential LCA study, guidance can be found in the literature and in the ILCD Handbook.

1     Introduction

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