LCA in the construction industry : a review
Faculty of Applied Economics
International journal of energy and environment
, p. 397-405
University of Antwerp
The last decades, there is a growing interest for reducing the environmental impact of buildings. Mostly the focus is on reducing energy consumption and eco-friendly materials, but importance of life-cycle thinking is growing. This paper tries to give an overview of the current situation of Life cycle assessment (LCA) in the construction industry, both of regulatory developments and academic case studies. After a short history of LCA, the focus is on LCA methodology, new standards and frameworks and recent case studies. Despite inherent limitations of LCA as an analytic tool and the differences between the individual cases, some common trends can be indicated. In standard buildings, the use phase contributes up to 90 % of the total environmental burdens, mainly due to heating and/or cooling. As new buildings become more energy efficient, other phases of the life cycle gain importance, like choice of materials, construction, end-of-life and water use. This are research topics which deserve more attention, together with economic issues and the improvement of data quality.