Life-cycle assessment (LCA) of existing bridges and other structures
Tutor / director / evaluatorCasas Rius, Joan Ramon
Document typeMaster thesis
Rights accessOpen Access
Most buildings are intended to have a long service life, usually over 50 or even 100 years. It is, thus, important to analyse all phases of their life, considering both the influence on environment and expenses. In order to do this precisely the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and the Life Cycle Costs (LCC) methods are used. There are many commonly used LCA and LCC software tools. They make it easier to control maintenance issues, and let their users accumulate all the data for the building. This paper takes into consideration several LCA tools and presents the main assumptions concerning the LCA and LCC methods. The most widely used theory of the LCA analysis is an approach described in International Standards ISO 14040, that assumes four phases of the LCA: Goal and scope definition, Inventory Analysis, Impact Assessment, and Interpretation. There are a few variants of life cycle assessment, namely cradle-to-grave, cradle-to-gate, cradle-to-cradle or gate-to-gate. For analysis in the building industry the most common method is cradle-to-grave approach, which best presents all the significant issues connected with buildings. The LCA of a building takes into consideration phases such as material acquisition, creation, transportation, use, and finally the disposal of the products. Strongly connected with the Life Cycle Assessment is the issue of the Life Cycle Costs. The LCC is used to help decision-making in all the phases of a building’s life. It ought to be taken into account that construction costs are only the beginning, and in further phases there will be other costs connected with operation and management, or special costs (e.g. taxes). Bridge Management Systems are based on the LCA and LCC methods. They have been developed so as to help manage resources effectively and to maintain bridges in satisfactory condition. Bridge Management Systems assess the present condition of the bridge and they also intend to predict the future performance of a bridge.