Transportation Impacts in LCA
When it comes to transportation impacts, they’re assigned to different modules based on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) stage. Transportation impacts are reported in the following modules:
- A2 – A component of product stage impacts (A1-A3) embedded in the AusLCI dataset, this module covers transport of raw materials to production or processing facilities
- A4 – Transport of materials and products to the construction site
- B2B3 – Transport related to repair and maintenance is included in B2B3
- B4 – Transport of replaced items is included in B4
- B5 – Transport related to refurbishment is included in B5
- C2 – Transport to landfill and/or until end-of-life status is reached.
eTool incorporates various factors that provide a comprehensive approach in the LCA. These factors, set by default but also adjustable by users when defaults are not suitable (except for Transport mass factor), affects the life cycle materials quantities and subsequent calculations:
- Lost or Damaged in Transport (LDT): Requirement of EN15978 that materials lost in transport are accounted for
- Construction Waste Factor (CWF): The percent of material that is wasted (e.g. offcuts, cut-outs, over-order, construction losses, etc.) relative to the installed mass
- Transport Mass Factor (LMF): The transported mass of the product including packaging / containment etc in comparison to the mass of the installed quantity (this parameter is fixed for each material)
- Material Life: Which is used to automatically calculate the subsequent replacements over the asset’s lifespan
- Maintenance or Repair Interval & Maintenance Quantity: Which is used to automatically calculate the maintenance and repair quantities required over the assets lifespan
- Recycling Rate: Recycled materials can have different end of life transport distances set in eTool.
For instance, the Transport Mass Factor (TMF) influences the transported mass and subsequent transport impacts (Module A4). To illustrate, if you have 1000 kg of a material and the TMF is 1.02, the software calculates a total of 1020 kg of transported material, accounting for both the material itself and any packaging or means used for its transportation.
Stating that the transported mass equation will be formulated as follows:
Transported Mass = Material Quantity x (1 + CWF + LDT + TMF)
Note that return trips for transport impacts are not included in eTool in order to align with EN 15978 standards:
“The boundary for module A4 shall include:
– Transport of materials and products from the factory gate to the building site, including any transport, intermediate storage and distribution;”
Most interpretations are that return journeys for material transport are not within the boundary for materials. They are however, for equipment: “transport of construction equipment (cranes, scaffolding, etc.) to and from the site;”
This information is available at the elemental level. In the image below, you’ll find an example template with assumptions for a carpet (Image 1), and another for steel to provide an illustration of a material with a recycling rate at the end-of-life stage (Image 2).
Image 1: Element level, Carpet template
Image 2: Element level, Steel template
Default transport modes and distances
Users can also customise transport modes and distances, but defaults are applicable for each region when products are initially added to templates or designs. Tables 1 to 6 provide a summary of transport modes and distances defaults for each major product group in eTool. The transport modes are the same across all regions with the exception of the UK which aligns with the RICS Whole of Life Carbon Assessment for the Built Form professional statement. The RICS guidance is also used to inform transport distances for the UK. For details on eTool transport methodology please refer to this section of the eTool Default LCI Regionalisation Methodology article.
Table 1: Australasian Data – Default Transport Distances and Modes
Table 2: New Zealand Data – Default Transport Distances and Modes
Table 3: United Kingdom Data – Default Transport Distances and Modes
Table 4: North America Data – Default Transport Distances and Modes
Table 5: Europe Data – Default Transport Distances and Modes
Table 6: Global Data – Default Transport Distances and Modes