LCA – A Step by Step Process

Normally LCA is performed in iterations: in the first round a simplified approach is used focusing only on the most important processes and resulting in a basic model. Then the following iterations gradually create a more advanced system that is closer to reality. This is illustrated in the life cycle assessment framework figure as defined by the standard.

The four phases of a Life Cycle Assessment as defined by ISO 14040:

LCA blog1

The LCA includes four phases, starting with defining the goal and scope. This phase is followed by inventory analysis and impact assessment. Interpretation is the final step in the process.

The goal is to understand where the environmental impact arises, especially for these impact categories: climate change, mineral resource depletion and human toxicity.

For FoAM-BUILD, the functional unit refers to the amount of insulation material required for a 1m2 block to fulfil a thermal resistance of 5m2K/W, meaning the changing parameters for comparison purposes is the thickness of the system.

1m2 of insulation with sufficient thickness to provide a thermal resistance of 5m2K/W with active moisture control and an expected service life to be 50 years

System boundaries for the FoAM-BUILD LCA – based on EN 15804:

LCA Blog2

Like the rest of the process, the scope definition can be subject to updates in line with the evolving technical implications of the outcomes of the research and development activities of the project.

Beyond the state of the art:

The analysis on FoAM-BUILD is attempting to go further than the state of the art by presenting the results of the analysis according to three perspectives: the builder, the owner and the occupier.

Intended presentation of the results of the FoAM-BUILD LCA:

LCA Blog3

The full picture requested by the system boundaries is still here but represented in a much more understandable way for the potential end user of the product and highlights the points where he can make a change more obviously!

And finally, because insulation product might not have the same impact depending on where they are being used; the analysis also looks at the environmental impact according to three climatic regions:

LCA Blog4

This allows the different temperatures in all three countries to be taken into account and because each country has different regulations it will show where the greatest benefits can be expected when implementing the new FoAM-BUILD product!

Current state of FoAM-BUILD LCA:

The work on the LCA of FoAM-BUILD has been progressing very well with a few achievements to date:

• Definition of the goal and scope of the analysis
• Definition of system boundaries with 3 point of views and 3 climatic
regions
• Simulation of existing product
• Preliminary simulation of future FoAM-BUILD product

In the coming months we will work on a better definition of the new product model as well as targeted analysis if this is required to help with the material development side of the project.