Investment decisions for buildings made today largely determine their environmental impacts over many future decades due to their long lifetimes. Furthermore, such decisions involve a trade-off between additional investments today and potential savings during use and at end of life - in terms of economic costs, primary energy demand, greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts. Since the economic system does not fully account for external environmental effects, environmental resources are used inefficiently. Life cycle assessment (LCA) is suited to complement economic information on buildings with information on their environmental impacts. LCA helps to take measures and action to increase the resource efficiency of buildings and construction.
The project is advancing the research already conducted within EBC Annexes 56 and 57. It broadens the scope of Annex 57 by including operational impacts of buildings in use and by addressing environmental impacts in addition to primary energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions. It is the intention to cover residential, office and school buildings, hospitals and other public buildings, both new and retrofit.
The project is researching harmonization issues arising when applying LCA approaches on buildings. It functions as a platform to exchange experiences and knowledge within partner countries and to foster the application of LCA on buildings in countries with little experience yet.
- establish a common methodology guideline to assess the life cycle based primary energy demand, greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impacts caused by buildings
- establish methods for the development of specific environmental benchmarks for different types of buildings
- derive regionally differentiated guidelines and tools for building design and planning such as BIM for architects and planners
- establish a number of case studies, focused to allow for answering some of the research issues and for deriving empirical benchmarks
- develop national or regional databases with regionally differentiated life cycle assessment data tailored to the construction sector; share experiences with the setup and update of such databases