Development of an Ecosystem Services – Life Cycle Assessment (ES-LCA) Framework of Brownfield Remediation Sustainability Assessment

Main Presenter: Khaled Alshehri 

Co-Authors: Peter Cleall Michael Harbottle Devin Sapsford Alistair Beames

Session: Virtual Poster Session 2

Sustainability assessment of brownfield remediation alternatives is often performed with the standard LCA practice [1] . The standard LCA practice quantifies the environmental loads over the life cycle of a product/service and characterise the potential environmental impacts by global-to-national level characterisation models. Although LCA is a powerful tool to assess the environmental performance of remediation technologies, it doesn’t adequately account for the effect of land use change of urban brownfield on the urban ecosystems services as well as urban land availability [2].
Several important ecosystem services (ES) are derived from soil [3] [4]. Brownfield remediation restores soil functioning of contaminated sites. Bioremediation, and in particular phytoremediation, achieves improved soil quality by relying on natural processes and are arguably ecosystem services as well. LCA provides a framework for a holistic assessment of alternative brownfield remediation scenarios however, the standard LCA practice doesn’t fully encompass the benefits and impacts of soil ecosystem services [5] .
LCA and ES share a parallel structure of cause-effect assessment across LCIA and ES cascade models [6]. Therefore, we consider the use of an approach based on a refined version of Rugani et al.’s ES-LCA framework to account for the urban land resource availability and urban ecosystem services on site. The refined framework is operationalised by introducing novel level 4 urban land elementary flows based on Koellner et al. guidance [7] coupled with GIS-based ecosystem services modelling [8] of current and expected land use. The proposed approach allows important ecosystems services to be accounted for.
This approach is demonstrated by extending the standard LCA used by of Hou et al. for evaluate the remediation of the London Olympic park [9].The novel approach results provided new insights into the impacts of soil remediation on ecosystem provisioning, regulation and maintenance, as well as cultural services on site within the LCA framework .

[1] C. Visentin, A. W. da Silva Trentin, A. B. Braun, and A. Thomé, “Application of life cycle assessment as a tool for evaluating the sustainability of contaminated sites remediation: A systematic and bibliographic analysis,” Science of The Total Environment, vol. 672, pp. 893–905, Jul. 2019, doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.04.034.
[2] A. Beames et al., “Accounting for land-use efficiency and temporal variations between brownfield remediation alternatives in life-cycle assessment,” Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 101, pp. 109–117, Aug. 2015, doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.03.073.
[3] A. L. R. Pavan and A. R. Ometto, “Ecosystem Services in Life Cycle Assessment: A novel conceptual framework for soil,” Science of The Total Environment, vol. 643, pp. 1337–1347, Dec. 2018, doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.06.191.
[4] M. Harbottle, “The Circular Geoenvironment – Maximising geoenvironmental services to minimize environmental harm,” p. 2.

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