Book section Open Access

Life Cycle Assessment Benchmark for Wooden Buildings in Europe

Erwin M. Schau; Eva Prelovšek Niemelä; Aarne Johannes Niemelä; Tatiana Abaurre Alencar Gavric; Iztok Šušteršič

Climate change and other environmental problems from the production of raw materials, construction, and end of life of buildings are serious concerns that need to be solved urgently. Life cycle assessment (LCA) and the EU-recommended Environmental Footprint (EF) are well-known and accepted tools to measure a comprehensive set of environmental impacts throughout a product’s life cycle. But to assess how good (or bad) a wooden building performs environmentally is still a challenge. In the EU Environmental Footprint [11] pilot phase from 2013 to 2018, an average benchmark for the different product groups was found to be very useful. Based upon the recommendations for a benchmark of all kinds of European dwellings, we developed a scenario of a typical European wooden building. The EU Environmental Footprint method covers 16 recommended impact categories and can be normalized and weighted into one single point for easy and quick comparisons. The results are presented as the average impact per one square meter (m2) of floor area over 1 year. The developed benchmark for wooden buildings is a suitable comparison point for new wooden building designs. The benchmark can be used by architects and designers early in the planning stages when changes can still be made to improve the environmental performance of wooden buildings or the communication and interpretation of LCA results for customers and other stakeholders.

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