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A Life Cycle Approach to the Selection of Construction Materials

Lookup NU author(s): Roger Bird, Dr Yongjian Huang


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Materials for construction are usually selected to give the lowest cost that will meet engineering requirements. However, increasing attention is given to the environmental performance of the construction process and end products. There is increasing pressure from stakeholders to use alternative materials to primary resources in support of sustainable construction. A life cycle approach is acknowledged by the construction industry to be sensible in selecting the appropriate materials. The many aspects it could affect include design for more durable products, lower life-time costs and environmental impacts. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is emerging as a potential tool to analyse the environmental impacts of a product or process throughout its life time, and report those impact to interested groups. This paper reviews the relevance of LCA to the Construction and Asphalt industry, and the growing consensus regarding the list of ‘Key Indicators’. It also highlights the existing LCA procedures that can be adapted to this sector, and identifies relevant LCA models and databases that exist worldwide to help speed up the analysing process. A case study is provided about the LCA of a resurfacing project in early 2005 at Wolverhampton by Aggregate Industries UK Ltd. Intending to provide a robust and objective assessment technique, this paper concludes that LCA has great potential, but also has limitations, and identifies areas that need further development. To support an integral sustainability strategy, environmental assessment must be supplemented by technical and economic studies.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bird RN, Allen R, Huang Y

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: The International Journal of Pavement Engineering & Asphalt Technology

Year: 2006

Volume: 7

Issue: 2

Pages: 65-82

ISSN (print): 1464-8164

Publisher: Liverpool John Moores University