Conducting an LCA

This is a complex task usually requiring the use of LCA software and databases.

For some LCAs some of these steps may be omitted or conducted in different ways. The generic approach offered by BP LCI is follows four steps:

1. Clearly defining the goal and scope of the assessment – what is included or excluded from the assessment and over what timescale (usually the life of the building)

The product(s) or service(s) to be assessed are defined, a functional basis for comparison is chosen and the required level of detail is defined in terms of the decision being addressed. The scope is defined both physically and over time and a boundary drawn around the included and excluded elements of the assessment

2. Compiling the inventory anaylsis of inputs by adding together:

  • the BP LCI data for the quantities of products consumed
  • any relevant energy or water implications from operation
  • any relevant cleaning, maintenance and replacements made over the specified timescale
  • the upstream and downstream consequences of the resources consumed and wastes generated (LCA Modelling), and,
  • considering the end-of-life reuse, recycling or disposal implications

Inventory Analysis involves compiling the Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) of materials and resources consumed, pollution and wastes generated by the included processes. The inventory must include all extractions and emissions, the energy and raw materials used, and emissions to the atmosphere, water and land use are quantified for each process and combined in a process flow chart related to the product and its related functional unit.

3. Conducting an impact assessment comprised the following major steps:

  • Classification of the resources consumed, wastes and pollution generated for their environmental impacts
  • Characterisation of the potency of each resource consumed, waste or pollution generated for its environmental impacts
  • Normalising the categories of impact against the average Australian citizens annual characterised impacts
  • Weighting of the normalised results for their relative importance to the Australian publicFor some LCA studies the scope is such that some of these stages can be omitted

4. Interpretation of the results. Results are reported in the most informative way possible and the need and opportunities to reduce the impact of the product(s) or service(s) on the environment are systematically evaluated. 

Click here to see the figure that shows the major steps in conducting an LCA. 

Download a PDF Presentation on “Introduction to Life Cycle Assessment of Building Products"