Rakennusmateriaalien ja -tuotteiden ympäristövaikutukset ja niiden arviointiperusteet

Translated title of the contribution: Environmental profiles of building products and the principles for assessment

Tarja Häkkinen, Sirje Vares, Erkki Vesikari, Kristina Saarela, Kai Tattari

    Research output: Book/ReportReport


    By the initiation of the Finnish Building Industry Association, this research was carried out aiming at the formulation of environmental declaration of building products. Attention was paid on the life cycle responsibility of the producers with respect to the products. That means that the environmen-tal declaration of building products should not only include the ecological parameters of the production stage, but also guidance given by the producer concerning the environmentally harmless use, demolishing, recycling and final disposal of the products. The project report also includes the environmental profiles of basic building materials produced in Finland. According to the definition given by the Finnish Committee for Sustainable, the ecological criteria for sustainable development are the preservation of biodiversity and adaption of human activities to the natural resources and tolerance of nature. The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) process is generally understood as a process of evaluating the environmental burdens associated with a product system by identifying and quantitatively or qualitatively describing the energy and materials used and wastes released into the environment, and of assessing their spesific impacts on the environment. The assessment includes the entire life cycle of the product or activity. In the methodology of LCA the environmental assessment is normally based on the account of environmental burdens that can be quantitatively dealt with, that means harmful emissions into air, water and soil and consumption of resources (energy, materials, water and land). The ecological criteria and the basic methodologies to assess the environmental impacts of buildings should be in accordance with the generally accepted guidelines. However, when comparing the LCAs of building products to those of other products attention should be paid to the special characteristics of building products, first being the long service life of building products. Because of the long service life of building components a significant part of the environmental burdens of building components occurs many years after the production process. Thus the prediction of service life, future environmental burdens (due to care, maintenance and final disposal) and potential reuse or recycling of building components after the service life should be taken into account in an LCA of a building product. Service life is the period of time after installation during which all essential properties meet or exceed minimum acceptable values, when routinely maintained. The decline in the performance of products with time may originate from physical degradation or obsolescence. The term obsolescence includes for example economic, functional, technological obsolescence. The standard draft of ISO TC 59/SC3/WG9 defines two service lives for buildings and building components. Design life is the target or required service life stated by the owner, the client or the designer of the building. Predicted service life is an evaluated service life of a building or building component based on experimental or empirical tests or computational reasoning. The principle of service life design is to ensure that the predicted service is longer than the design life. In the environmental assessment of building products functionally equivalent units should be compared to each other and thus the problematics of predicting service life are closely connected to LCA of building products. In the environmental assessment of single products, the predicted service life should primarily be used. If the conditions are not given the standard value of predicted service life can be used. Concerning the use of LCAs in building sector, the following conclusions were made: • In building sector the LCAs should primarily be used as tools for the development of environmentally improved building products and building concepts. • If the results of environmental assessment is only used for comparing of building products, this puts very high requirements on the data quality. • The declaration formats of building products should not include only the environmental profiles (energies and emissions) of building products, but the guidance over the whole life cycle of products should be emphasized. This means developing of formats which include instructions of the assembling, use, and recycling of products aiming at the minimizing of health and environmental harms. • The assuring of service life of building products should be seen as an important part of ecological design.

    Translated title of the contributionEnvironmental profiles of building products and the principles for assessment
    Original languageFinnish
    PublisherVTT Technical Research Centre of Finland
    Number of pages123
    ISBN (Print)951-38-5118-4
    Publication statusPublished - 1997
    MoE publication typeD4 Published development or research report or study

    Publication series

    SeriesVTT Tiedotteita - Meddelanden - Research Notes


    • Construction materials
    • Environmental effects
    • Environmental impact assessments
    • External walls
    • Life (durability)


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