Towards guidance values for the environmental performance of buildings: application to the statistical analysis of 40 low-energy single family houses’ LCA in France

Sébastien Lasvaux*, Alexandra Lebert, Fanny Achim, Francis Grannec, Endrit Hoxha, Sylviane Nibel, Nicoleta Schiopu, Jacques Chevalier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: In this study, life cycle assessment (LCA) is applied to a sample of 40 low-energy individual houses for the French context in order to identify guidance values for different environmental priorities (energy and water consumption, greenhouse gases emissions, waste generation etc.). Methods: Calculation rules for the LCA derived from EeBGuide guidance and HQE Performance specific rules for the French context. Data are based on Environmental Product Declaration (EPD for the impacts related to products and technical equipment while generic data are used for energy and water processes. The LCA is defined for the entire life cycle of a building from cradle-to-grave according to NF EN 15978 standard. It includes the products and equipment implemented in the building, the different uses of energy for heating, domestic hot water, lighting, ventilation and auxiliaries, and the different uses of water consumption. Results and discussion: Results for the 40 houses showed that the average life cycle non-renewable primary energy consumption is about 37 kWh/(m2*year) while the life cycle greenhouse gases emissions are of 8.4 kg CO2-eq/(m2*year). The embodied impacts represent between 40% and 72% for the following indicators: acidification, global warming, non-renewable primary energy, and radioactive waste. The net fresh water use is mostly determined by the direct use of the water in use, and the non-hazardous waste indicator is only linked to the materials and equipment. When integrating the variability of the different houses design, energy performance, climate requirements, it was found that those values can vary of an order of two between the 10 and 90% percentiles’ values. It was found that the results are also sensitive to the enlargement of the system boundaries (e.g. inclusion of the other uses of energy such as building appliances) and the modification of the reference study period. Conclusions and recommendations: This study provided a first set of LCA guidance values describing a range of environmental impacts for new low-energy individual houses in France. Results were also reported for different design parameters, system boundaries and reference study period. The outcomes of this study can now serve as a basis to guide and support new LCA-based labelling systems developed by public authorities and labelling schemes (e.g. the HQE Association).

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)657-674
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Buildings
  • Embodied carbon
  • Embodied energy
  • EPD
  • Impact assessment
  • LCA
  • Operational energy and water uses
  • Statistical analysis


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