The building sector is a major contributor to theenvironmental loads generated by the society. The recognitionof this fact by the sector and a general strive toward asustainable society have lead to afocus on different toolsthat can be used to enhance the environmental performance ofthe sector and the society. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is oneof these tools. The LCA methodology was initially developed forassessments of short-lived consumer products. The increasinginterest in using the LCA methodology in the context of thebuilding sector has initiated a development of the methodologyto be able to consider the specific characteristics andconsiderations of the building sector. These are specific forthe building sector, but not always unique. Examples ofcharacteristics and considerations are: that each building isunique, the functional output is not always a physical productbut rather a service, the long service lives of buildings.These have implications on several elements in the LCAmethodology. The influenced elements that are dealt with inthis thesis are in particular the modeling of the system, thefunctional unit, boundary setting, life cycle scenarios,scenarios and inventory of the usage phase and allocationprocedures.
Buildings and constructions are commonly not static systems.The systems are rather dynamic in the sense that the systemwill provide different services based on the same physicalstructure during its service life. To be able to model thedynamic system sequential life cycle thinking is introduced anda list of topics is derived. The list of topics is a structuredpresentation of issues that are of interest in the pursuit of aflexible LCA methodology. The goal is to find out if amethodological approach is suitable for modeling dynamicsystems with a functional unit that is based on the providedservice rather than the physical building.
Boundary setting, life cycle scenarios, allocationprocedures, predicted service life and the modelling of theusage phase are all elements of the LCA methodology that havean potential to influence the result of an LCA in a significantway. The magnitude of the potential influence has beenmonitored based on the results of three case studies, whichhave been elaborated further to be able to estimate themagnitude of the potential influence.
There is a multitude of available allocation procedurespresented and used in different contexts. The procedures aredeveloped based on different considerations and with differentintended applications. Two alternative allocation proceduresare presented in this thesis. The first is a proceduredeveloped with multi recyclable materials in mind and it isbased on the recyclability of materials and products. Thesecond procedure is quite recently developed and it is based ona combination of economic parameters and recyclability.
The importance of the usage phase for buildings andconstructions has previously been recognised. The maincontributors to the environmental loads generated during theusage phase are energy use, maintenance and emissions fromproducts. It is, however, not very common to consider the usagephase in assessments conducted on materials and components,even though it is stipulated in e.g. ISO 14025 that the wholelife cycle should be considered. A proposal of a model toestimate the environmental loads is, therefore, presented.
Keywords:Life cycle assessment, Building materials andcomponents, Buildings and constructions, Allocation, Resultvariation, Usage phase, Energy demand
Institutionen för byggnader och installationer , 2001. , xii, 53 p.
Life cycle assessment, Building materials and components, Buildings and constructions, Allocation, Result variation, Usage phase, Energy demand