Image by Lance Anderson

What is life cycle assessment (LCA)?

Life Cycle Assessment, more commonly known simple as LCA, is a quantitative assessment of the environmental impact of a product or service. This is different to an environmental impact assessment, which is based on qualitative methods. LCA is rapidly gaining importance globally, including in Estonian scientific publications since the publication of the book “Life Cycle Assessment” in 2005.

In short, LCA is an analysis that provides a quantitative assessment of the environmental impact of a product (or service) throughout its life cycle / cycle e. life cycle. Energy and material flows (including waste generation, water consumption, etc.) at all stages of the life cycle are included in the calculation. The LCA analysis results in different environmental indicators. The most widely used LCA indicator is Global Warming Potential (GWP). In addition to carbon dioxide, GWP also includes other compounds that contribute to global warming and is measured in kgCO2 equivalents .


Depending on the purpose of the LCA analysis, different production stages, materials, or phases of the life cycle of the research object can be included or excluded from the calculation. Depending on the type of the analyzed object, the scope of the study and the mainly used LCA indicators have been developed. This allows the results of the same type of LCA to be compared.

Image by Marcin Jozwiak

What is a building LCA?

Building LCA is one of the better standardized LCA methods that has been used for about 20 years. The LCA calculation for a building is based on the EN 15978 standard, which gives clear limits to the scope of the calculation. The figure below shows all the stages of the building life cycle based on the EN 15978 standard. Depending on the purpose of the calculation, different steps of the LCA analysis are involved.


The table below shows the LCA indicators of the building according to the EN 15978 standard.