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01.04.2015 | CONFERENCE REPORT: 57TH DISCUSSION FORUM ON LCA | Ausgabe 4/2015

The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 4/2015

Life cycle assessment in the building sector: analytical tools, environmental information and labels

57th LCA forum, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, December 2, 2014

Zeitschrift:
The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment > Ausgabe 4/2015
Autoren:
Rolf Frischknecht, Franziska Wyss, Sybille Büsser Knöpfel, Philippe Stolz

Abstract

The 57th life cycle assessment (LCA) forum was held on December 2, 2014 to discuss the European and Swiss situation with regard to the environmental assessment of buildings. This conference report presents the highlights of the LCA forum. Several methodological approaches exist to assess the environmental assessment of buildings. In Switzerland, all technical bulletins of the Swiss Society of Architects and Engineers (SIA) related to this topic and most labels and certification schemes rely on the KBOB recommendation 2009/1:2014, which in turn is based on the ecoinvent database. In Europe, the standards on environmental product declarations (EPD) of construction products and buildings and the guide on product environmental footprints published by the European Commission are applied. In Austria, France and Germany, environmental product declarations form an important part of certification schemes of buildings. The European construction product directive names the quantification of the environmental performance as one of the seven basic requirements on construction works. This basic requirement needs now to be embedded into the harmonised technical specifications (such as harmonised European Standards, hEN or European Technical Assessments (ETA)). The situation in Austria, France and Germany illustrates the diversity of European labels, certifications and information schemes even though they all refer to the European EPD standards. France for instance asks for requirements additional to the European Standards, and several labels using different life cycle assessment databases are in operation in Austria. On the other hand, the two main certification schemes in Germany use the same approach, indicators and database. Several initiatives are ongoing or being launched in Europe which try to further harmonise the environmental assessment of buildings and construction materials. The different presentations showed the variety of applications of life cycle-based environmental information in the planning process of buildings, ranging from conceptual decisions to suppliers’ choices, decisions on materialisation up to labelling and certification of built properties. It was concluded that unifying life cycle inventory methodology, environmental indicators and life cycle inventory background databases is most important in view of further harmonisation. At the same time, it was admitted that harmonisation in these areas is difficult if not out of reach.

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