Worth knowing about LCA and new danish requirements
What is LCA?
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a holistic approach to evaluating the potential environmental impact of a building throughout its entire life cycle. This includes the environmental impact of obtaining raw materials, production of building materials, energy and resource consumption during operation and maintenance, as well as disposal and reuse of building components and materials. The method for calculating LCA is described in the standard EN15978 Sustainability in construction and building - Evaluation of environmental quality of buildings - Calculation method.
Conducting an LCA for a building requires a significant amount of data and information, including quantities and environmental data for all relevant building components. Energy consumption for the building is also included as per the energy frame calculation.
BR18 (Danish building regulation) requirements to emission
As of January 1, 2023, a requirement for LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) calculations will be introduced for all new construction in Denmark covered by an energy frame.
The aim of this requirement is to reduce the environmental impact of buildings. For new construction over 1000 square meters, a CO2 limit of 12.0 kg CO2-equivalents per square meter per year will be set.
Additionally, a low-emission class, also known as a voluntary CO2 class, will be introduced, with a limit of 8.0 kg CO2-equivalents per square meter per year.
Compliance with this requirement must be documented during the final building inspection, but it is recommended to monitor progress throughout the construction process to ensure compliance.
Assessment period & lifespan
BR18 is a Danish building regulation that uses a 50-year period for calculating the climate impact. This means that all materials that have a shorter lifespan than 50 years need to be replaced or maintained. Over the 50 years, the building's energy and heat consumption are also included.
Real-Time LCA allows users to choose different assessment periods if they wish to study the significance of materials with long lifetimes or if they want to have parallel calculations that comply with company-specific standards or other countries' varying norms and requirements.
In calculating the climate impact, replacement of building parts and materials is taken into account, and the determination of lifetimes uses principles established in BUILD RAPPORT 2021:32 – BUILD lifespan table – Version 2021.
Lifecycle phases for construction
|B6||Energy consumption in use|
|B7||Water consumption in use|
|End of lifespan||C1||Demolition|
|C3||Pretreatment of waste|
|Out of project scope||D||Potential for reuse, recycling and other recovery|
BR18 §297-298 er a section of the Danish building code that describes requirements for carbon emissions in new construction. In calculating the carbon impact according to BR18 §297-298, the "orange" phases are not included. Real-Time LCA is a tool that allows the user to choose whether to calculate emissions in accordance with the documentation of BR18 climate requirements, but it also allows the inclusion of additional phases in the calculation. This enables documentation in accordance with the voluntary sustainability class, where emissions from the construction process must be included. However, it also allows for easy parallel calculations that comply with company-specific standards or other countries' varying norms and requirements.
Worth knowing about RTLCA
How does Real-Time LCA comply with legislation and requirements?
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) calculations in Real-Time LCA follow the EN15978 standard. To document a building's climate impact in relation to BR18, a consideration period of 50 years is used, and the following phases are included:
A1: Raw materials
B4: Replacement (excluding transportation and replacement process)
B6: Energy consumption for operation
C3: Waste treatment
D: Potential for reuse, recycling and other utilization
Note: Point 8 is calculated but not included in the result for documenting compliance with the limit value. The climate impact is calculated for the building parts specified in Annex 2, Table 6 in BR18. https://bygningsreglementet.dk/Bilag/B2/Bilag_2/Tabel_6#e53ebfa8-1dea-4737-aa53-69c8a848b30c.
What environmental data does Real-Time LCA use?
Real-Time LCA has several options for mapping environmental data to building materials. Part of it contains a generic data base from BR18, appendix 2, table 7 https://bygningsreglementet.dk/Bilag/B2/Bilag_2/Tabel_7#787e83a6-b7d9-4a83-a4be-37574156daef.
Furthermore, it is possible to use data from product and industry-specific environmental product declarations that follow DS/EN15804 Sustainability in Construction and Building - Environmental product declarations - Basic rules for the product category of building materials. In Real-Time LCA, there is data from EPD Denmark. https://www.epddanmark.dk/, EPD Norge https://www.epd-norge.no/?lang=no_NO. In addition, there is the possibility to enter other EPDs manually. In relation to the use of EPDs, reference is also made to BR18 guidance on the validity, relevance and application of EPDs: https://bygningsreglementet.dk/Tekniske-bestemmelser/11/BRV/Bygningers-klimapåvirkning/Kap-1_6#b6389a97-d00d-4e95-94c8-65101704088e.
For documentation of climate requirements according to BR18, only generic data from Table 7 and EPD data from specific products that are part of the construction project can be used.
Real-Time LCA also includes the option to choose generic data from the German platform Ökobaudat, where data is freely available. These data can be used for comparisons and initial screenings if the desired material data is not available in generic data from Table 7 or as EPD data.
In Real-Time LCA, data is monitored and updated with changes, additions, and other relevant information at the beginning of each month. The user can at any time see which environmental data is used in the LCA calculations, with full traceability to the source.
Conversion of various unit factors
When using environmental data, special attention must be paid to the conversion between the values that are provided based on a specific unit factor, and the unit used to calculate quantities in the building models. Real-Time LCA helps to ensure this as the conversion is done automatically between multiple units.
Area calculation (sqm)
When calculating the climate impact of a building, its area must be calculated. This includes the heated area, which forms the basis for the energy consumption during the operational phase, and the reference area, which is used to assess the BR18 climate requirement.
The reference area is based on the calculation of the floor area, and all floor areas are included, including all heated floor areas. However, there are several modifications to the calculation of the reference area.
- All basement areas, waste rooms at ground level and security rooms are included. This means that these areas are fully included (100%). However, only rooms that are integrated into the building are included. Freestanding security rooms and waste rooms are not included in terms of materials or areas. Basements are included, whether they are heated or unheated.
- Outdoor ramps, stairs, fire escapes, balconies, balcony walkways, and the like are included with 25%. This means that where these areas are not included in the area calculation according to §455, they must be included with 25% of the area in the calculation of climate impact. Other examples of areas that may be covered by 25% include Stack-parking areas, which enable parking in multiple levels within one floor.
- Integrated garages for single-family houses, townhouses, and the like are only included with 50%. Integrated garages means that the garage is part of and built together with the building, i.e. shares external walls, roof etc.
- Integrated carports, sheds, covered areas, sheds, etc. are only included with 25%. This covers constructions that are built as integrated parts of the building, such as integrated covered play areas. For example, for a building built on columns, where the area under the cover supported by the columns is used for parking spaces, 25% of the area under the columns must be included in the reference area. Another example is technical rooms on roofs, which will also be included with 25% of the area.
- Walk-on-ceilings and the like are only included with 25%. Walk-on-ceilings are, for example, installation ceilings whose height corresponds to room height and which can bear loads from people.
- Garages and carports that are not integrated into the primary building, as well as sheds, chicken houses, greenhouses, covered terraces, utilized roof surfaces and the like are not included, neither in terms of materials used for construction nor the area of these areas.
In the BR18 guidance on the requirement, examples of the calculation of reference areas are given. These percentage conversions are done automatically in Real-Time LCA.
There may be special conditions that necessitate an increased need for materials or energy, which could cause a building to exceed the CO2e limit. Special conditions include special requirements due to hospital and laboratory equipment, high load on decks, CC3+ consequence class, soil conditions, and high cleanliness or security requirements. In these cases, an exception can be requested so that the additional consumption is not included in the calculation for compliance with BR18 requirements.
These calculations are automatically performed in Real-Time LCA when specific conditions are recorded.
Documentation of LCA
Real-Time LCA ensures that you comply with documentation requirements in accordance with the BR18 requirement for climate impact. This is done through the ability to generate a report with LCA documentation.
The calculation should include building components such as roof, exterior walls, interior walls, decks, and the like, from the paint on the interior side to the cladding on the exterior side. For technical installations, technical systems and main pathways are included. Electrical installations and furniture should not be included.
The quantities should represent the finished building as "as built". It should be clear which environmental data is used and the LCA result should be presented in an understandable way, so that it can be assessed whether the requirement is met.