Primary data priorities for the life cycle inventory of construction products : focus on foreground processes

Belizario Silva, Fernanda (University of São Paulo, Polytechnic School, Department of Construction Engineering, São Paulo, Brazil ; Institute for Technological Research of the State of São Paulo, Center for Technology of the Built Environment, São Paulo, Brazil) ; Costa Reis, Daniel (University of São Paulo, Polytechnic School, Department of Construction Engineering, São Paulo, Brazil) ; Mack-Vergara, Yazmin Lisbeth (University of São Paulo, Polytechnic School, Department of Construction Engineering, São Paulo, Brazil ; Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá, Experimental Center for Engineering, Tocumen, Panama ; Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Institute for Construction and Infrastructure Manageemnt, Chair of Sustainable Construction, Zurich, Switzerland) ; Pessoto, Lucas (University of São Paulo, Polytechnic School, Department of Construction Engineering, São Paulo, Brazil ; Institute for Technological Research of the State of São Paulo, Center for Technology of the Built Environment, São Paulo, Brazil) ; Feng, Haibo (University of British Columbia, Kelowna, Okanagan, Canada) ; Almeida Pacca, Sérgio (University of São Paulo, School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities, São Paulo, Brazil) ; Lasvaux, Sébastien (School of Management and Engineering Vaud, HES-SO // University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland) ; Habert, Guillaume (University of São Paulo, Polytechnic School, Department of Construction EngineerSwiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Institute for Construction and Infrastructure Manageemnt, Chair of Sustainable Construction, Zurich, Switzerland) ; Moacyr John, Vanderley (University of São Paulo, Polytechnic School, Department of Construction Engineering, São Paulo, Brazil)

Purpose : Life cycle assessment can support decisions for improving the environmental performance of construction products. However, the amount of data required for developing life cycle inventories limits the adoption of LCA. This work associates the interpretation of the impact results of construction products at the unit process level with a quantitative definition for the foreground and background system, for guiding primary data collection towards foreground processes that can be affected by decision-makers in the construction sector. Methods : A set of construction products commonly used in Brazil is selected, and their cradle-to-gate life cycle inventories are modeled using the ecoinvent database (version 2). Life cycle impact assessment is performed using the ReCiPe Midpoint Hierarchist method. The contribution of each process during the life cycle of construction products for each impact category is quantified. These processes are associated with economic sectors, which are classified as belonging to the foreground or background system from the perspective of the construction industry. Foreground sectors are those controlled or influenced by the construction sector and are defined based on the production share consumed by the construction value chain. The elementary flows defining each impact category are also identified. Results and discussion : Foreground processes show significant contributions to most impact results of construction products. Global warming, fine particulate matter formation, ozone formation, acidification, human carcinogenic toxicity, and terrestrial ecotoxicity are mainly caused by direct emissions and fossil fuel combustion in manufacturing processes. Land occupation for production activities contributes to land use change, while the consumption of fuels, raw materials, and water causes fossil and mineral resource scarcity and water consumption respectively. Freshwater and marine ecotoxicities and human non-carcinogenic toxicity have foreground contributions only for steel and copper products due to emissions from the landfilling of mining tails. Ionizing radiation and stratospheric ozone depletion are mostly driven by background processes. A reduced group of elementary flows covers a big share of the environmental impacts of most construction products. Conclusions : The results indicate priorities for life cycle inventory primary data collection of construction products, by focusing on foreground processes and the corresponding elementary flows that cause many of the potential embodied impacts of construction. Increasing the availability of primary data for these processes improves the reliability of LCA-based decisions in the construction sector, especially in countries which still lack local LCI databases.


Keywords:
Article Type:
scientifique
Faculty:
Ingénierie et Architecture
School:
HEIG-VD
Institute:
IGT - Institut de Génie Thermique
Date:
2020-06
Pagination:
33 p.
Published in:
The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
Numeration (vol. no.):
2020, vol. 25, pp. 980-997
DOI:
ISSN:
0948-3349
Appears in Collection:

Note: The file is under embargo until: 2021-06-09


 Record created 2020-06-23, last modified 2020-06-25

Fulltext:
Download fulltext
PDF

Rate this document:

Rate this document:
1
2
3
 
(Not yet reviewed)