A comparative study of Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) and EN 15804 in the construction sector concentrating on the End-of-Life stage and reducing subjectivity in the formulas

Detta är en Master-uppsats från KTH/Hållbar utveckling, miljövetenskap och teknik

Sammanfattning: One of the main polluting industries in the world with high environmental impact is the construction industry which also generates a huge amount of waste. To overcome the seburdens, we need to reduce the impacts through new solutions, technologies and by injecting circular economy concept into the industry. Construction and building material industry are responsible for nearly 11% of all GHG emissions and the usage of residential/commercial buildings is contributing to 28% of all GHG emissions globally. the construction industry is also responsible for 35% of the total wastes in the European Union. Both linear economy and emissions of the construction sector are becoming more important in recent years that led to the development of many standards, frameworks and innovations. Reporting environmental burdens of the construction elements, products and construction works or construction projects is one of the ways for emissions accounting. Therefore, a report on environmental impacts of goods or services is called environmental product claims which can be based on a single criterion (like CO2 emission or % of recycled content) or based on a complete LCA study with multiple impacts. These reports have been classified by ISO 14020 series in three types, Type I (third-party certified label), Type II (self-declared claims) and Type III (the third party verified declaration based on LCA study). The third type is known as Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). To make the LCA results in EPD:s comparable, Product Category Rules (PCR) are developed. The regulations for the construction materials are defined in EN 15804 so the declarations of the building materials and construction works according to these regulations are compliant with EN 15804. Another framework for environmental declarations called, Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) is developed in Europe. Besides Business to Business declarations that are the target group for EN 15804, PEF also includes environmental labelling (type I) with consumers as the target group. The PCR:s from the updated version of EN15804:2012+A2:2019 can be regarded as the parallel methodology specification for the construction materials in the PEF system. Other product groups' rules and specifications are based on the PEF guidance document. The overall aims of this study are to compare the EN 15804 and PEF formulas concentrating on credits at the end of life and after the end of life stage and to reduce the subjectivity of two variables, energy margin, and recycling rate in the assessment of recycling alternatives after the end-of-life stage. Calculated credits can be included differently in the environmental declarations depending on the methodological approach. PEF includes the End-of-Life (EoL) credits into the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study and adds them to the product's performance results, while EN 15804 mandates to report the credits from recycling/recovery separately as supplementary information to the products environmental performance. To compare the credits that are calculated according to PEF and EN 15804, a separate indicator is virtually defined for PEF in order to calculate all the credits separately and compare the results with EN 15804 Module Dresults to give the reader an overview of the most beneficial uses of the construction waste according to PEF and EN 15804. Reducing subjectivity of choosing recycling rate has been addressed by developing more transparent and less subjective tool by integrating and using DGNB (German Sustainable Building Council) and BRE (center for building research in the UK) methods. For energy margin, this has been done by integrating energy margin calculation tool by CDM (Clean Development Mechanism, United Nations) and find the contribution of different materials to the environmental benefits in and after the end of life stage of the building lifecycle. However, the DGNB and BRE methods require further development, since they are not originally developed for LCA studies and just used as the only current options available in order to make recyclability assessment methods compatible with LCA studies. Other methods, specifically for LCA, can also be developed in the future. Based on an inventory of the components and materials used in a real building, the most environmental benefits (credits) from downstream recycling/recovery considering all materials are generated for the wooden products when using the EN 15804 formula, while aluminium is in the second place. On the other hand, aluminium is in the first place and wood is second using the PEF formula. Aluminium has by far the most benefits (credits) considering the credits per kg of each material, due to the huge recycling potential that aluminium has and will replace primary aluminium in the future. Unlike PEF, EN 15804 reports all credits separately outside of the LCA system boundary. This is very beneficial since the correct verified LCA will not beaffected by the credits that are given based on current technologies when the end of life of the building components are between 40 to 120 years away from today.

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