The methodology of life cycle assessment of products and services is most commonly referred to using the abbreviation LCA. It is a systematic approach that evaluates the impact of the product on the environment. The “product” is defined as a product system including all inputs of materials, energy and transportation necessary for the production of the product, actual production and use until the disposal phase. It thus includes the entire life cycle of the product, assessing all environmental impacts associated with this life cycle.
During the development of the methodology, the following structure of the entire LCA was formed, consisting of four phases:
- Goal and scope definition
- Inventory analysis
- Impact assessment
- Interpretation, improvement assessment
Detailed methodology of the LCA analysis is currently contained in the following international standards in particular:
ČSN EN ISO 14040:2006 Environmental Management – Life Cycle Assessment – Principles and Framework
ČSN EN ISO 14044:2006 Environmental Management – Life Cycle Assessment – Requirements and Guidelines
ČSN ISO/TR 14047:2005 Environmental Management – Life Cycle Assessment – Examples for the Application of ISO 14042
ČSN P ISO TS 14048:2003 Environmental Management – Life Cycle Assessment – Data Documentation Format
In the construction industry, the entire area is related to the issues collectively referred to as “sustainable construction”. Within the EU, a European Commission (EC) communication called “Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe” was published in 2011. With respect to the construction industry, it identified high consumption/utilization of natural resources as well as a significant savings potential. A set of newly created standards of the EN 15000 series (often using earlier ISO standards) provides a unified European system for assessing the sustainability of buildings and construction products (products and services), which is based on an approach that takes into account their life cycle and whose main objective is to allow comparability of results. Sustainability assessment, carried out in accordance with these new standards, quantifies the impacts and aspects of environmental, social and economic characteristics of buildings using both quantitative and qualitative indicators (e.g., GWP, amount of renewable energy).
The Technical and Test Institute for Construction Prague (TZÚS Praha, s.p.) has been following these trends for a long time and, based on wide and long-term knowledge of construction production and processes, it offers organizations help in conducting LCA studies focused on the issues of product life cycle. When addressing these issues, it can rely on its staff, computational software and links to major global database of generic data.
In the field of construction products, the importance of this issue is also rising in response to the inclusion of the 7th basic requirement in CPR (Regulation No. 305/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council (EU ) – CPR), which envisages the gradual creation of the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), including the LCA as another essential tool.