Decision support for large-scale remediation strategies by fused urban metabolism and life cycle assessment

Pernille Ohms*, Camilla Andersen, Mathilde Landgren, Morten Birkved

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Purpose: This paper seeks to identify the most environmental friendly way of conducting a refurbishment of Broendby Strand, with focus on PCB remediation. The actual identification is conducted by comparing four remediation techniques using urban metabolism fused with life cycle assessment (UM-LCA) in combination with information relating to cost and efficiency of the compared techniques. The methodological goal of our paper is to test UM-LCA as a decision support tool and discuss application of the method in relation to large refurbishment projects.

Methods: To assess the environmental performance of PCB-remediation techniques, the UM-LCA method was applied. By combining UM and LCA methodologies, the total environmental impact potentials of the remediation techniques were calculated. To build an inventory for each technique, we contacted and interviewed experts and studied existing literature, cases, and projects in order to compile information on practical details of the techniques. To process the collected inventory data, we used the simplified product system modeling software Quantis Suite 2.0 (QS2.0). In order to validate the results from the simplified software, we carried out the exact same analysis using a more complex tool - OpenLCA 1.5. Based on the assessment results, we compared the remediation techniques and identified the techniques with the smallest and largest environmental impact potentials.

Results and discussion: The results obtained are presented, and the technique with the smallest impact identified. A comparison between the two software tools applied is made, and differences between the two are discussed in detail. Further discussed is how possible inventory errors affect the results and if any assumptions should be considered as critical for the final results. Furthermore, are the remediation efficiencies of each technique and the cost of each method considered and compared. Finally, UM-LCA ability to work as a tool for decision support is discussed and possible ways of implementing the method in sustainable decision-making is considered.

Conclusions: In this study, it is found that the most environmental friendly PCB-remediation technique is thermal desorption, whereas the technique with the largest environmental impact potential is sand blasting, due to the environmental impacts induced in relation to disposal of the building waste. It is concluded that the UM-LCA method can be applied as a tool for decision support, and if economic aspects are incorporated, the UM-LCA approach could be an essential approach for designing sustainable buildings.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1254-1268
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Decision support
  • Hazardous building materials
  • PCBs
  • Remediation techniques
  • Renovation
  • UM-LCA

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