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Benchmarks for environmental impact of housing in Europe: definition of archetypes and LCA of the residential building stock

Abstract: 
The study describes the results of a full LCA applied to 24 statistically-based dwelling archetypes, representative of the EU housing stock in 2010. The aim is to quantify the average environmental impacts related to housing in Europe and to define reference values (baseline scenario) for policies development. The average environmental impacts is calculated accounting for the number of dwellings (clustered per typology, year of construction and climate zone) related to each representative model. System boundaries include production, construction, use (energy and water consumption), maintenance and replacement and end-of-life phases of each dwelling. The environmental life cycle impact assessment is carried out using the ILCD method. EU average annual environmental impact per person, per dwelling and per m2 were calculated. Results show that the average life cycle greenhouse gases emissions related to housing per person per year are 2.62 t CO2eq and related to a representative dwelling per year are of 6.36 t CO2eq. The use phase (energy and water consumption) is the most relevant one, followed by the production of construction materials and by maintenance. Single-family houses are responsible for the highest share of impacts from housing in Europe. The same type of building has different impacts in different climatic zones, especially because of differences in the need for space heating. In general, electricity use and space heating are the activities that contribute the most to the overall impacts. The overall results could be used as a baseline scenario for testing eco-innovation scenarios for impact reduction and for setting targets.