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A modeling framework to evaluate sustainability of building construction based on LCSA

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Abstract

Purpose

Life cycle sustainability assessment (LCSA) is a method that combines three life cycle techniques, viz. environmental life cycle assessment (LCA), life cycle costing (LCC), and social life cycle assessment (S-LCA). This study is intended to develop a LCSA framework and a case study of LCSA for building construction projects.

Methods

A LCSA framework is proposed to combine the three life cycle techniques. In the modeling phases, three life cycle models are used in the LCSA framework, namely the environmental model of construction (EMoC), cost model of construction (CMoC), and social-impact model of construction (SMoC). A residential building project is applied to the proposed LCSA framework from “cradle to the end of construction” processes to unveil the limitations and future research needs of the LCSA framework.

Results and discussion

It is found that material extraction and manufacturing account for over 90 % to the environmental impacts while they contribute to 61 % to the construction cost. In terms of social impacts, on-site construction performs better than material extraction and manufacturing, and on-site construction has larger contributions to the positive social impacts. The model outcomes are validated through interviews with local experts in Hong Kong. The result indicates that the performance of the models is generally satisfactory.

Conclusions

The case study has confirmed that LCSA is feasible. Being one of the first applications of LCSA on building construction, this study fulfills the current research gap and paves the way for future development of LCSA.

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Abbreviations

CMoC:

Cost model of construction

EMoC:

Environment model of construction

GFA:

Gross floor area

HKHA:

Hong Kong Housing Authority

LCA:

Environmental life cycle assessment

LCC:

Life cycle costing

LCI:

Life cycle inventory

LCIA:

Life cycle impact assessment

LCSA:

Life cycle sustainability assessment

LCSD:

Life cycle sustainability dashboard

LCST:

Life cycle sustainability triangle

PRH:

Public rental housing

sLCIA:

Social life cycle impact assessment

S-LCA:

Social life cycle assessment

SMoC:

Social-impact model of construction

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the Hong Kong Housing Authority for the support on this research. The work presented here was financially supported by Research Grants Council (RGC) under the General Research Fund (Grant No. 7160/11) and the HKU CRCG Seed Funding for Basic Research (Grant No. 201111159093).

Author information

Correspondence to S. Thomas Ng.

Ethics declarations

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Human Research Ethics Committee for Non-clinical Faculties, The University of Hong Kong. Informed consent was obtained from all participants for being included in this study.

Additional information

Responsible editor: Matthias Finkbeiner

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Dong, Y.H., Ng, S.T. A modeling framework to evaluate sustainability of building construction based on LCSA. Int J Life Cycle Assess 21, 555–568 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-016-1044-6

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Keywords

  • Building
  • Case study
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Life cycle sustainability assessment