Diffusion of LCA in European policies in the construction sector: criteria, guidelines, tools and benchmarks

Main Presenter:    Monica Lavagna 

Co-Authors:   Davide Tirelli     Andrea Campioli                                          

The adoption of Life Cycle (LC) criteria, methods and metrics for assessing the sustainability of buildings, i.e. by adopting the Life Cycle Thinking (LCT) approach and the related assessment methodologies Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Life Cycle Cost (LCC) and Social LCA (SLCA), is internationally recognized as necessary to define effective ecological transition actions, estimate effects and monitor results. The use of LCA into policies in building sector is a topic of growing interest. On the one hand, the LCA method can be used to support the assessment of the sustainability of policies (i.e. to assess the environmental effects of a given policy). On the other hand, the LCA method can be integrated into policies (i.e. requiring LCA as a tool for verifying the design choice, during the development of the project). This second option is certainly the most interesting, because it allows to spread the use of the LCA method throughout all the operators of the building process. The paper
analyzes the applications of the LCA method in the policies of the building sector in the European context, highlighting in particular the second approach, namely the request to apply the LCA method during the design or construction process. Many PAs have enforced environmental action plans at multiple levels (european, national, regional, municipal). For enhancing the effectiveness of PA policies in the field of environmental sustainability of buildings, the implementation of environmental criteria, assessment-verification-monitoring procedures, reference targets/benchmarks based on LC methods are necessary. It should be noted that the introduction of criteria that promote the use of LCA in policies is generally accompanied by the development (by public administrations, generally at national level) of support tools, such as databases and software (which also make the evaluations methodologically uniform and comparable). The objective of the paper is to show best practices, mapping
policy type, LC criteria and requirements, methodological LCA guideline, LCA database and tools, benchmarks for buildings, etc. The final goal of the paper is to define recommendations to policy makers in LCA application and to highlight potentialities and limits in the current applications.

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