Life cycle assessment of cities: the first steps for standardization

Albertí Bueno, Jaume
Cities are recognised as great generators of impacts and, consequently, seen as an opportunity for reducing them Worldwide. Cities are environmentally relevant because of two reasons. Firstly, because they are responsible, for example, for more than 60% of global warming or more than 78% of world’s energy consumption, which is said to take place within cities. Secondly, cities are very relevant because more than half of the world’s population is living in cities. Therefore, any environmental impact that is affecting cities may be affecting more than half of the population of the world. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is being recognised as the best available methodology to assess environmental burdens and to avoid problem shifting. However, as LCA is environmentally focused, burden exchange between the three dimensions of sustainability - environment, economy, and society - may still happen. The research objectives of this thesis are: 1. To propose criteria on how to frame city LCA methodology. 2. To review the existing environmental assessment methods and to analyse their compliance with the criteria set in objective 1. 3. To review the existing city assessment methods and analyse their compliance with the criteria set in objective 1. 4. To propose definitions and procedures for the main items within the goal and scope of a city LCA, such as: the function, the function unit, the reference flow, the system boundary, and allocation. 5. To contribute to the understanding of the validity of LCA along time. 6. To explore the environmental consequences on the choices of substitution of parts of a city system ​
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