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Operational Guidance for performing Life Cycle Assessment Studies of the Energy efficient Buildings Initiative

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Life-cycle assessment for green buildings

Life-cycle assessment (LCA) determines the environmental impact of a product, starting with the extraction and processing of raw material and ending with its disposal or recycling. An EU-funded initiative has developed operational guidelines for performing LCA on energy-efficient buildings.

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LCAs can be used for the certification of sustainable buildings and the development of Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) for products used in building construction. There is also a growing trend to use them during building projects as a decision-making support tool. The EEBGUIDE project developed a common methodology and set of rules for conducting LCA studies on energy-efficient buildings. The methodology is based on existing guidelines such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) handbook. EEBGUIDE will enable LCA practitioners from the private and public sectors to quantify environmental impacts in a consistent and meaningful way. For this purpose, a guidance document was developed and LCA case studies provided and disseminated to LCA practitioners and industry. A website was established that acts as an information hub. The EEBGUIDE guidance document will help assess the life cycle of both existing buildings and those under construction. It can also be applied to building products and technical solutions within the Energy Efficient Building European Initiative (E2B EI), an industry-driven research programme. At the European policy level, EEBGUIDE directly links the construction industry to the European Platform on LCA and the ILCD data network. Project activities also impacted European policies such as the Integrated Product Policy (IPP), the new Construction Products Regulation (CPR) and the Lead Market Initiative for Europe on sustainable construction. Environmental indicators and LCA will also influence the thematic strategies on the 'Prevention and recycling of waste', and the 'Sustainable use of natural resources'. Some important and recent instruments in this regard are the 'Sustainable consumption and production action plan' (SCP) and the 'Sustainable industrial policy' (SIP). Other impacts of EEBGUIDE will include the creation of new high-skilled jobs, improved European competitiveness, and healthy and secure eco-friendly working conditions. In addition, the use of participatory approaches in the development of the guidance document will help contribute to a more democratic and knowledge-based society.

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