Life Cycle Assesment Method in the context of the Environmental Impacts of Construction Materials

Center for European Union Education and Youth Programmes, Turkish National Agency, Lifelong Learning Programme, Leonardo da Vinci Mobility Project

The applicant of the project is Gazi University; and the project consists of Turkish Standards Institution, Turkish Cement Manufacturers' Association (TCMA), Mesa Housing Industries Corporation, Cersoy Construction Materials Marketing Industrial Trading Limited Company, Nimsan Niksar Lime Merchanting House Industrial Corporation, Nimsan Lime Merchanting House Industrial Corporation, Da Vinci Engineering-Architecture Industrial Trading Limited Company, Akana Engineering Industrial Trading Limited Company, ARGE Automation-Engineering Industrial Trading Limited Company, Green Niksar Newspaper, Canik Newspaper, Association of Technical Education Development, Technical Education Foundation and as national beneficiary partners, and PE International GmbH Company, University of Stuttgart, DIBU German Institute Construction and Environment, and Germany Baden-Wüerttenberg Ministry of Environment as host patners. The environmental impacts of construction materials are taken into account in the project proposal.

Environment consciousness has begun as the environment pollution increased in the world. Parallel to environment consciousness, sustaining healthy survival of human and improving the environmental quality has become the main goal of the companies in all of the sectors. Within this context the sectors has begun to check the environmental performance of their products with some methods. One of these methods is “Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)”. LCA is a method to assess the potential environmental impacts of a product or a service. This method, which came into existence in order to assess the environmental impacts of industrial products through their whole life cycles, is adopted by the construction sector in the course of time as well. The increase of the interest because of the problems when using LCA method in the construction sector has led up to constitute national and international work groups and research programs in EU countries. The works for new definitions, comparisons and models related to LCA continues in these groups throughout EU. Today, the most detailed and up-to-date knowledge about LCA may be obtained from the ISO 14040 Standards Series prepared by International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Some of these standards are penetrated into Turkish Standards Institution standards, but some of them are not translated yet. According to ISO 14040 LCA can assist in:

  1. Identifying opportunities to improve the environmental aspects of products at various points in their life cycle,
  2. Decision-making in industry, governmental or non-governmental organisations for  strategic planning, priority-setting, product or process design or redesign,
  3. Selection of relevant indicators of environmental performance, including measurement techniques,
  4. Development of marketing tools such as an environmental claim, ecolabelling scheme or environmental product declaration.

The life cycle of construction materials that are used in the construction sector is a cyclic process. This process, which is called “life cycle”, begins with extraction of raw materials; and consists of packaging, transportation, production, usage, maintenance when needed, and disposal, recycling or providing reusage of these materials after some processes. Construction materials cause various environmental impacts during each stage of their life cycles. These impacts may be climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion, acidification, nutrification, human toxicity, ecological toxicity, resource depletion, photochemical oxide formation, toxicity (air, water, soil), and deterioration of biodiversity.