“Life cycle approaches to sustainable building and construction”

This year’s summer school, the 10th in the series under the broader programme “Life cycle approaches to Sustainable Regional Development” looked at how life cycle methodologies can contribute to a more sustainable building and construction. The building sector is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, as well as having significant impacts on land-use, biodiversity, water and energy resources, chemicals use and waste management, just to name some selected issues. Demolition and construction waste – so-called DCW – is one of the biggest waste sources in modern economies, both in terms of volume and valuable lost resources. The schema below indicates the materials-related components of the building cycle.

Sustainable construction concept by ACR+

The second diagram shows the main SDGs as identified by the World Green Building Council. The building sector also has implications for regional development, public administration having major roles in planning, regulation and surveillance but also as owner of a substantial park of municipal buildings in its own right.

A variety of assessment and management instruments have been employed by various stakeholders in an attempt to mitigate the damaging impacts, some being bundled into various ’toolboxes’ for use by professionals all along the building life chain. Some of these are what we call single-issue tools that address only one of the SDGs without necessarily acknowledging secondary impacts on other issues. Others attempt to deal with several issues simultaneously.

During the summer school we studied more critically a variety of instruments and toolboxes that can be combined to address all the SDGs concurrently along the entire building cycle Some of these tools are assessment methodologies such as LCA, life cycle costing (LCC), materials evaluation, materials flow analysis (MFA), social and organizational (s-LCA and o-LCA), methods for calculating carbon and water footprints, and dealing with biodiversity issues. There was also a close focus on life cycle management methodologies such as eco-design, EPDs and eco-labels, green procurement, sustainable supply-chain management, product service systems, among others. These can be seen in the context of ‘systems concepts’ such as resource efficiency, circular economy, industrial ecology, and integrated waste management. The role of innovative materials and advanced building technologies, some based on bio-products, was also explored.

SDG Graphic by the World Green Building Council

Like in previous years, the summer school attracted a variety of participants ranging from subject experts in regional administrations to young professionals and mature students in relevant disciplines who all wanted to become familiar with a new discipline or simply to broaden their horizons in a field where they are already active. Faculty staff were experts in their respective fields whether in life cycle methods or in sustainable buildings.

The 2021 format was again an on-line event, combining lectures, webinars, individual study and group workshops, as well as an individual project that ran for the duration of the summer school. In addition, students were encouraged to do short presentations of their own work.

The Summer School will took place from 09. – 30. September, on the basis of 3 afternoon on-line sessions each week plus extensive off-line individual study assignments.


The full program is now available for download here:


We were extremely happy to be able to welcome an amazing array of insightful speakers to this year’s Life Cycle Summer School

  • Alberto Bezama, UFZ
  • Alberto Bayona, Navarra of Land and Housin
  • Andreas Ciroth, GreenDelta
  • Arne Ragossnig, Umweltkonsulenten
  • Carolina Szablewski, WeLoop
  • Caroline Henrotay, Brussels Institute for Environmental Management
  • Christine Guinebretière, Upcyclea
  • Eva Serigné-Itoz, ICL
  • Guido Sonnemann, Université de Bordeaux
  • Iain Gulland, ZeroWasteScotland
  • Janez Potocnik, International Resource Panel
  • Jean-Benoît Bel, ACR+
  • Jürgen Utz, DGNB
  • Lisa Wastiels, Belgian Building Research Institute
  • Llorenç Mila i Canals, UN Environment
  • Lucia Rigamonti, Milan Polytechnic
  • Mark Radka, UN Environment
  • Martina Otto, UN Environment
  • Naeem Adibi, WeLoop
  • Niclas Svenningsen, UNFCCC
  • Nicoletta Fascetti, Ministerio della Transizione Ecologica, Italy
  • Paola Valencia, Ministry of Housing and Urbanism of Chile
  • Serenella Sala, European Commission Joint Research Centre
  • Sonia Valdivia, World Resources Forum
  • Stephen Boyle, ZeroWasteScotland
  • Tim Eian, intep
  • Tomas Rydberg, IVL

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