Life cycle assessment evaluation of green product labeling systems for residential construction

Neethi Rajagopalan, Melissa M. Bilec, Amy E. Landis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a tool that can be utilized to holistically evaluate novel trends in the construction industry and the associated environmental impacts. Green labels are awarded by several organizations based on single or multiple attributes. The use of multi-criteria labels is a good start to the labeling process as opposed to single criteria labels that ignore a majority of impacts from products. Life cycle thinking, in theory, has the potential to improve the environmental impacts of labeling systems. However, LCA databases currently are lacking in detailed information about products or sometimes provide conflicting information. Method This study compares generic and green-labeled carpets, paints, and linoleum flooring using the Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES) LCA database. The results from these comparisons are not intuitive and are contradictory in several impact categories with respect to the greenness of the product. Other data sources such as environmental product declarations and ecoinvent are also compared with the BEES data to compare the results and display the disparity in the databases. Results This study shows that partial LCAs focused on the production and transportation phase help in identifying improvements in the product itself and improving the manufacturing process but the results are uncertain and dependent upon the source or database. Inconsistencies in the data and missing categories add to the ambiguity in LCA results. Conclusions While life cycle thinking in concept can improve the green labeling systems available, LCA data is lacking. Therefore, LCA data and tools need to improve to support and enable market trends.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)753-763
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
Volume17
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012

Keywords

  • Building products
  • Energy
  • Environmental impacts
  • Green labels
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Residential model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)

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