LCA-Framework to Evaluate Circular Economy Strategies in Existing Buildings

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Introduction: Buildings are responsible for 39 % of CO2 emissions in the world and have the largest consumption of natural resources. The concept of Circular Economy can be used as an approach for mitigating environmental impact in this sector. Circular economy in the built environment can be implemented on a building level through preservation instead of demolition and new construction. In order to assess the environmental impact, the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) framework can be used. The purpose of this study is to expand the existing building-LCA framework from the CEN TC 350 standards to include existing buildings on the building site in the assessment of buildings and demonstrate the framework on a building case. This is done in order to include the environmental benefits from preserving the building materials that already exists on the building site. Methods: The framework is developed based on the existing standard for LCA for buildings and the framework is demonstrated on an existing school building. Results: The study develops and demonstrates a framework for performing LCA on buildings when an existing building is the starting point. The framework includes scenarios for 1) preservation, 2) renovation and 3) demolition and new construction. The case building shows the importance of including demolition of the existing building as it accounts for 12 % of impacts. It furthermore illustrates how the scenarios can be compared, especially in terms of when the impacts occur, i.e. that most impacts from scenario 3) happen today, which can be a challenge with a limited climate budget. Conclusion: The developed framework allow us to broaden the LCA scope to include existing buildings in the assessment such as demolition of existing buildings on building site. This makes it possible to evaluate the circular strategies on building level using LCA to the benefit of building designers, clients and policy makers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConference Proceedings : World Sustainable Built Environment online conference BEYOND 2020 : 2- 4 November 2020
EditorsHolger Wallbaum, Alexander Hollberg, Liane Thuvander, Paula Femenias, Izabela Kurkowska, Kristina Mjörnell, Colin Fudge
Number of pages8
PublisherIOP Publishing
Publication dateNov 2020
Article number042044
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020
EventBEYOND 2020 - World Sustainable Built Environment Conference (WSBE) - Chalmers, Gothenburg, Sweden
Duration: 9 Jun 202011 Jun 2020


ConferenceBEYOND 2020 - World Sustainable Built Environment Conference (WSBE)
SeriesIOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science
Number4 (1.11 – 1.14)


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