Life Cycle Assessment procedures are being used more and more by designers and consultants in the evaluation of the overall environmental impacts of a building throughout its entire life (“from cradle to grave”). Though many studies have demonstrated that the highest impacts of a building are due to its space heating, air-conditioning and electrical consumption, the impacts due to the construction phase and therefore the choice of materials are not negligible. The University of Perugia is carrying out a research, funded by the Italian Ministry for Environment, on the role of the building sector on greenhouse gas emissions; within this research, data on building materials is being collected and methodologies are being tested to help spread the knowledge of LCA procedures in Italy. First of all, the paper illustrates the aims and methodologies of LCA studies, gives the definition of embodied energy for a building material and presents related data of thermal and sound insulating materials. Finally, the paper presents the results of some simulations carried out on some typical buildings (an independent house, an office building, a block of flats), whose energy and environmental performance was optimised also thanks to a LCA approach. Particular attention was paid to the choice of thermal and sound insulating materials.
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