What are the challenges in assessing circular economy for the built environment? A literature review on integrating LCA, LCC and S-LCA in life cycle sustainability assessment, LCSA

Vibeke Grupe Larsen*, Nicola Tollin, Peter Andreas Sattrup, Morten Birkved, Tine Holmboe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

The construction and real estate industry is, directly and indirectly, responsible for circa 40% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Therefore, it is relevant to look upon the building sector as a focus area for a transition from Linear Economy to Circular Economy (CE), as outlined by the EU Commission through European Green Deal as a growth strategy for EU and, as a consequence of this, the EU Circular Economy Action Plan. This article aims to analyse current knowledge and methodologies for integrating life cycle thinking, namely Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Life Cycle Costing (LCC), and Social Life Cycle Assessment (S-LCA) into Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA), as an integrated assessment methodology, that can support the transition of the construction and real estate industry to a circular economy. We conducted a literature review to address this effort, including forty-two articles, thirteen of which report on integrating all three methods. Furthermore, we analysed the content of these articles and identified knowledge gaps in this area. Conclusions are, that for CE to succeed, a comprehensive and circular view upon buildings' life cycle phases is necessary to give closer attention to the service life phase and the reuse/recycle phase of buildings. Such attention will impact the building's value chain, regarding the involvement of more stakeholders, not only in the early phases of project development (decision-making) but particularly in the design phase; Further research in evaluating CE through the integration of life LCA, LCC and S-LCA into LCSA is necessary to support the transition; For this purpose, S-LCA needs even further maturation and development, as S-LCA will, through focus and development, become an essential lever for raising attention focused upon the use phase and the reuse/recycle phase; A specific focus upon making integrated life cycle sustainability assessment operational and useable for practitioners in the building processes is necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104203
JournalJournal of Building Engineering
Volume50
Number of pages16
ISSN2352-7102
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1. Jun 2022

Keywords

  • Built environment
  • Circular economy
  • Life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA)
  • Social life cycle assessment (S-LCA)
  • Sustainable building

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