Where to focus? Developing a LCA impact category selection tool for manufacturers of building materials

Haibo Feng, Jianfeng Zhao*, Alexander Hollberg, Guillaume Habert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


Life cycle assessment (LCA) has been widely applied to improve the environmental performance of the building sector. However, due to the complexity of LCA results including the multitude of impact categories, decision makers of the building materials manufacturing industry are grappling with allocating their limited resources to the most influential impact categories. The aim of this article, therefore, is to propose an impact category selection tool that enables performance improvement of building materials without sacrificing the validity of LCA results. The developed method selects common building materials, and defines foreground processes that can be influenced by manufacturers of building materials and background processes that can hardly be impacted using the US Input-Output database. Following the life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) analysis with the ReCiPe2016 Midpoint method, our results indicate that, among the 18 impact categories of the ReCiPe2016 Midpoint method, Global Warming Potential, Ozone Formation and Human Health, Fine Particulate Matter Formation, Ozone Formation and Terrestrial Ecosystems, Terrestrial Acidification, and Terrestrial Ecotoxicity should be considered the first priority group while Ionizing Radiation, Freshwater Eutrophication, Marine Eutrophication, Freshwater Ecotoxicity, Water Consumption should be placed in the last priority group. It further suggests that by shifting the limited available resources to the first priority group, decision makers can readily improve the environmental performance of building materials during the manufacturing process. The contribution of the proposed selection tool lies in that it can be adapted by decision makers to different geographical contexts, LCIA methods, and building materials to efficiently ameliorate the environmental performance of the building sector.
Original languageEnglish
Article number136936
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date30 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2023

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