Environmental Product Declarations for plants and soils: How to quantify carbon uptake in landscape design and construction?

Matti Kuittinen*, Ranja Hautamäki, Eeva Maria Tuhkanen, Anu Riikonen, Mari Ariluoma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Purpose: Currently, no clear guidance exists for ISO and EN standards of calculating, verifying, and reporting the climate impacts of plants, mulches, and soils used in landscape design and construction. In order to optimise the potential of eco-system services in the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment, we unequivocally propose their inclusion when assessing sustainability.
Methods: We analysed the life cycle phases of plants, soils, and mulches from the viewpoint of compiling standard-based Environmental Product Declarations. In comparison to other construction products, the differences of both mass and carbon flows were identified in these products.
Results: Living and organic products of green infrastructure require an LCA approach of their own. Most importantly, if conventional life cycle guidance for Environmental Product Declarations were to be followed, over time, the asymmetric mass and carbon flows would lead to skewed conclusions. Moreover, the ability of plants to reproduce raises additional questions for allocating environmental impacts.
Conclusions: We present a set of recommendations that are required for compiling Environmental Product Declarations for the studied products of green infrastructure. In order to enable the quantification of the climate change mitigation potential of these products, it is essential that work for further development of LCA guidance be mandated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1100-1116
Number of pages17
JournalInternational journal of life cycle assessment
Volume26
Issue number6
Early online date8 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • life cycle assessment (LCA)
  • landscape architecture
  • Plant
  • soil
  • carbon
  • greenhouse gas

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