, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 323-337
Date: 28 Jun 2007

Evaluating Holistic Environmental Consequences of Brownfield Management Options Using Consequential Life Cycle Assessment for Different Perspectives

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Brownfields are abandoned, idled, or underused sites whose reuse necessitates some sort of intervention. These sites are largely urban and are frequently contaminated. Brownfield management options can be associated with three types of environmental consequences: those resulting from changes in the site’s environmental quality (primary impacts); those resulting from the actual intervention stage (secondary impacts); and, if the vocation of the site changes, those resulting from effects on regional land use (tertiary impacts). Different stakeholders and decision-making contexts will place a different importance on each of these types of impacts. This article proposes a framework for comparing brownfield management options in regard to these three types of environmental impacts and for interpreting these results from different perspectives. The assessment framework is based on consequential life cycle assessment (LCA), which is shown to provide environmental information on the three types of impacts. The results for a case study are presented, where a “rehabilitation” option allowing residential redevelopment is compared to an “exposure minimization” option not resulting in the site being reused. Calculated primary and tertiary impacts are favorable to the rehabilitation option, whereas secondary impacts are favorable to the exposure minimization option. A ternary diagram presents the favorable option for different stereotypical perspectives. Tertiary impacts are much greater than secondary impacts, and consequently all perspectives that consider tertiary impacts favor rehabilitation. The perspective that considers primary and secondary impacts receives conflicting information. The ternary diagram, showing results for all perspectives, could possibly be useful for consensus-building among stakeholders.