The convergence of life cycle assessment and nearly zero-energy buildings: The case of Germany

Markus Weißenberger, Werner Jensch, Werner Lang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


This paper presents the historical development and background of life cycle assessment (LCA) and nearly zero-energy buildings in Germany. In order to plan and build responsibly for the future, it is necessary to have an overview of the topic at hand. Final energy demand during the operational phase of buildings has fallen steadily. According to European Union guidelines (2010/31/EU), starting in 2021 new buildings must achieve the nearly zero-energy standards. These buildings will have very low operational energy demand. As a consequence of this requirement, the relative impact of construction and disposal increases in terms of the entire life cycle. This is also the case currently for buildings with low operational energy demand. The research - based on a literature analysis and review - shows that LCA has existed since the 1970s as a tool to judge potential environmental impacts. Moreover, the energy building standards in Germany have developed continuously since 1977. This process will continue in the new German Energy Saving Ordinance in 2014, which will be tightened even further in 2016. As LCA is well established and sustainable buildings are becoming increasingly common, the next indispensable step is to consider the life cycle view of nearly zero-energy buildings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-557
Number of pages7
JournalEnergy and Buildings
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Historical development
  • LCA
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Life cycle view
  • Nearly zero-energy buildings
  • Overview


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