LCA - Life-Cycle Analysis - general rules used by COCON-BIM

LCA (Life-Cycle Analysis) means assessing the environmental impacts of a wide variety of types of actions carried out during a given period.

COCON-BIM can combine LCA data from different standards and countries.

In the context of a building, LCA mainly concerns:

  • its building materials (rather than the furniture)
  • its technical installations (boiler, electrical system, etc.)
  • the means used to build/refurbish it during the construction phase
  • its use (heating, cooling, lighting, maintenance, refurbishment, etc.)
  • its end of life (dismantling, demolition, etc.).

The following related aspects can also be linked to it, for example:

  • travel generated by the use of a building
  • the effects of the presence of a building on its plot, etc.

The scope and level of detail of the environmental study depend on both:

  • the assumptions used:
    • the expected life of the building, such as
    • the nature and number of variants considered.
  • the level of detail of the building description:
    • the list and ordering of the materials,
    • technical installations.
  • the type and level of detail of the environmental information available in the software database.

The COCON-BIM application includes a "Mathieres" database (MAterials, THermal properties, Environmental and Health Impacts) which contains a description:

    • of more than 3,000 building materials specifying:
      • thermal information (thermal conductivity, specific heat, density, etc.)
      • environmental information in the form of impact indicators (grey energy, GHG emissions, air and water pollution, resource depletion, water consumption, etc.).
    • technical installations (lifts, boilers, heat pumps, lighting and plumbing equipment, etc.) and the environmental impacts relating to:
      • their manufacture
      • their use
      • the end of their life
    • site equipment (excavation, lifting, etc.) and means of transport (car, truck, train, boat, plane, helicopter, etc.) and the environmental impacts associated with their use.
  • is based on various data sources obtained in:
      • France: 
        • FDES (Environmental Product Declaration Sheets) as per standard NF P01-010, DEP) produced in particular by the INIES database
        • EPDs (Environmental Product Declarations) as per standard EN 15804 
        • PEPs (Environmental Product Profiles as per standard EN 14040, notably from the PEP Ecopasseportdatabase.
      • Germany - Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) including those in the OEKEBAU database.
      • UK - Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs)
      • Switzerland, including those in the Kbob database and EcoInvent. 

Combining LCA data from different standards and countries

To date (2016) in the field of materials and equipment for the building sector, the environmental data available in France and in Europe are still heterogeneous. Their scope therefore needs to be validated in order to obtain robust analyses.

Since standard EN 15804 is now shared by European countries, it is used to structure the organisation of data in COCON-BIM.

  • It is generally preferable to use national data as much as possible because, in each country:
    • energy mixes vary.
    • the reuse / recycling / recovery channels for end-of-life waste are organised in a wide variety of ways.
    • LCA methodologies may vary. Thus, for example if an end-of-life scenario favours:
      • dumping to landfill
        • GHG emissions tend to be minimised (since there is no combustion)
        • the total primary energy tends to be high (due in particular to the metering of material energy).
      • energy recovery:
        • GHG emissions tend to be maximised (combustion).
        • the total primary energy tends to be low (or even negative because energy is produced during combustion).

The table below illustrates this schematically for data from France and Germany.

Generally preferred scenario

Country

Climate change indicator

Energy indicators

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dump to landfill

France

Sometimes negative

Always positive

 

Energy recovery

Germany

Always positive

Sometimes negative

 

 

  • When data from more than one country are used, it is preferable to specify this.
  • In the design phase, it is:
    • generally preferable to use generic material data owing to the uncertainty of future supplies. The database therefore contains data that are:
      • aggregated by sector or professional union. They are identified by a name with the prefix ##. 
      • generic, derived from branded products with similar characteristics. They are identified by a name with the prefix ##.
    • worth using very specific data when, on the contrary, you have perfect control over the supply chain.
  • In France, the main pitfall currently lies in the simultaneous availability of three types of documents (FDES, DEP, PEP) relating to the LCA of construction products.
  • In the rest of Europe, EPDs (Environmental Product Declarations) are used which, at first glance, would suggest that they are identical to French DEPs. This is not generally the case because the French DEP provides information for all phases of the life cycle, while elsewhere in Europe, manufacturers generally present only the phases from A1 to A3 and C1 to C4.

The table below briefly summarises the main differences between the four types of documents just mentioned.

Doc. type

Standard

Country

Complete cycle

Details for some phases

Details for each phase

 

 

 

 

 

 

FDES

NF P 01-010

France

Yes

No

No

DEP

NF EN 15804

France

Yes

Yes

Yes

EPD

NF EN 15804

EU (except France)

No

Yes

No

PEP

EN 14040

France

Yes

Yes

No

 

  • COCON-BIM handles the following impact indicators:
    • Greenhouse gases (GHG)
    • Destruction of the stratospheric ozone layer
    • Photochemical ozone formation
    • Total primary energy
    • Renewable primary energy
    • Non-renewable primary energy
    • Primary energy process
    • Primary energy material
    • Water consumption
    • Hazardous waste disposed of
    • Non-hazardous waste disposed of
    • Radioactive waste disposed of.
  • COCON-BIM handles the following life cycle phases:
    • Overall (see EN 15804)
      • Entire life cycle (standard NF P 01-010 and, where appropriate, standard EN 15804)
      • Total available (simple sum of the phases checked and available).
    • In semi-detail as per standard EN 15804 (see figure)
      • A1-A3: Production stage
      • A4-A5: Construction stage
      • B1-B7: Use stage
      • C1-C4: End-of-life stage
      • D: Benefits beyond system boundaries
    • In great detail (standard EN 15804)
      • A1: Supply of raw materials
      • A2: Transport
      • A3: Manufacture
  • A4: Transport
  • A5: Use
  • B1: Use
  • B2: maintenance
  • B3: Repair
  • B4: Replacement
  • B5: Refurbishment
  • B6: Energy consumption while the building is in use
  • B7: Water consumption while the building is in use
  • C1: Demolition / dismantling
  • C2: Transport
  • C3: Waste transport
  • C4: Disposal
      • D: Benefits beyond system boundaries

 Etapes du cycle de vie selon norme EN 15804