Comparison of life cycle assessment databases: A case study on building assessment

Atsushi Takano, Stefan Winter, Mark Hughes, Lauri Linkosalmi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Scopus citations

Abstract

Comparability of life cycle assessment (LCA) results based on different background data has long been debated. This is one of the main issues in building LCAs since buildings are complex products, which require multiple material data for the assessment. The objective of this study was to investigate numerical and methodological differences in existing databases related to building LCAs. The five databases selected were compared in terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission values in the material production phase of the three reference buildings, two wooden buildings with different frame types and a precast concrete framed building.The results demonstrated that the databases show similar trends in the assessment results and the same order of magnitude differences between the reference buildings are shown by all the databases. It was also revealed that the numerical differences between the databases are quite large at some points and the differences originate from multiple data elements. The findings indicate the importance of the number of data and a clear statement of the bases of the values for comparative assessment. It would be more realistic to develop a reporting and communication system for LCAs rather than trying to unify the methodologies among the databases. An optimization of open information is significant for further development of LCA databases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-30
Number of pages11
JournalBuilding and Environment
Volume79
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2014

Keywords

  • Building
  • Cradle-to-gate
  • Greenhouse gas emission
  • LCA databases
  • Life cycle assessment (LCA)
  • Open information

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