Social Life Cycle Assessment of buildings and use of the Social Hotspot Database. Potentials and challenges.

Main Presenter:    Jessika Moussi 

Co-Authors:   Cihan Kayaçetin     Alexis Versele      Chiara Piccardo                                    

The integration of Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA) in the construction industry is important to offer a holistic evaluation of sustainability, including social impacts, throughout the life cycle of construction projects. It also plays a key role in stakeholder engagement, hotspot identification, risk management, and contribution to informed decision-making.

This paper proposes a comprehensive methodological approach to assess and address the social dimensions of sustainability in the construction sector by integrating the S-LCA method and the Social Hotspot Database (SHDB). The study aims to bridge existing gaps in the literature by providing a detailed exploration of the S-LCA method, including an investigation into key social standards, guidelines, and the SHDB. Additionally, the paper offers a thorough analysis of studies dedicated to examining social sustainability within the construction industry.

The research employs the SHDB integrated into SimaPro software application to quantify the impacts related to the supply chain and determine the social implications of construction projects. To illustrate this approach, a full-scale residential prototype focusing on circular and bio-based building materials, known as Living Lab (LL) Ghent, and located on the campus of the university KU Leuven, is introduced. The prototype undergoes evaluation for both production and construction phases, utilizing site-specific quantitative input data mapped to various sectors in the SHDB. In ensuring a comprehensive evaluation, the study adopts the UNEP S-LCA guideline and benefits from extensive site-specific data. The S-LCA is conducted at different scales: component level (demountable bio-based wall panels) and building level. The aim of this study is twofold. On the one hand, the study evaluates the social impact of circular building materials that do not have a regular, widespread supply chain. On
the other hand, the study investigates the potential of the available software and method, using the LL Ghent as a case study. To validate the quantitative results, a previous qualitative S-LCA study on the same building will be utilized for comparison.

This study seeks to lay the foundation for future comparative studies in construction industry, aiming to develop a framework that assesses the effectiveness of utilizing quantitative data as opposed to qualitative data in the execution of social assessments. It may also provide essential information on the additional social benefits of circular and bio-based building materials and methods besides the environmental advantages.

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