Developing an LCA-based tool for infrastructure projects

There exists a well established set of tools based on life cycle assessment methodology for buildings. Tools such as the BRE’s Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) are commonly used and a greater number of clients are specifying a particular rating to be achieved for projects. Whilst the Civil Engineering Environmental Quality Assessment and Award Scheme (CEEQUAL) assesses infrastructure projects across the whole sector it does not specifically take into account the life cycle assessment of the project and, in particular, the materials used. However, recent developments with regard to responsible sourcing may go some way to addressing this gap. For example an organisation’s procedures and systems regarding quality, the environment and health & safety can also be assessed through responsible sourcing alongside the impacts of the construction product itself. In the UK however, there is little evidence that a single, unified and overarching framework for project assessments will be developed in the immediate future. Therefore a real and pressing need exists for an easy to use tool for civil engineers that takes into account both the life cycle assessment of the materials used and the environmental impacts these have on infrastructure projects. This research aims to develop such a tool and as such this paper will present an analysis of the drivers and barriers in relation to this development.