Purpose - To evaluate the long-term advantage of reusing building elements, including reduced material consumption and waste production, life cycle assessments are purposeful. To translate these assessments in relevant design advices, it is necessary to model accurately the service life of the considered elements and acknowledge the related uncertainties. Practical methods to do this are nevertheless lacking. In reaction, this paper proposes a new assessment method: geometric service life modelling and discounting.

Methods - The developed method is extensively parametric. Its formulas express an element’s service life in terms of a limited number of variables. This facilitates the evaluation of large series of elements as well as the automation of uncertainty analyses. Further, the method tackles different modelling complexities such as the interaction between replacements and refurbishments. Taking into account these complexities aligns the assessments with realistic service lives. For the presentation of the developed method, a focus on life cycle costing is chosen.

Results and discussion - In this paper, the outcomes of the newly developed method are compared to those of an existing calculation method and benchmarked with the manual modelling and assessment of 390 simplified building elements. This comparison is based on three indicators characterising the methods’ accuracy: the number of interventions, their individual impact and their resulting net present value. For each indicator, geometric discounting led to a considerable increase of accuracy compared to the existing method.

Conclusions - From this comparison, it is concluded that geometric service life modelling and discounting offers not only a well-defined procedure for parametrised life cycle assessment studies, this method is also more accurate than the existing one. Moreover, the uncertainty analyses it facilitates illustrate how detailed assessment outcomes and relevant design advices about the effectiveness of element reuse can be obtained. Nevertheless, further research about the method’s practical implementation is required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1191–1209
Number of pages19
JournalThe International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
Issue number8
Early online date5 Jan 2017
StatePublished - 13 Jul 2017

    Research areas

  • Life Cycle Assessment, Life Cycle Costing, Probabilistic Simulation, Sensitivity Analysis, Service Life Modelling, uncertainty Analysis

ID: 28432332