Dr. Jaume Albertí, responsable de la línea Construcción Sostenible:

"En el futuro, será necesario analizar la aplicabilidad de los actuales métodos de ACV no sólo a un conjunto de edificios, sino a sistemas de mayor complejidad como las ciudades. Esto deberá llevarse a cabo desde una nueva perspectiva ya que las ciudades no pueden ser consideradas como una suma de productos y edificios, sino como sistemas más complejos que requieren un enfoque más integral."


Contribuimos a la diseminación de las mejores técnicas existentes y de las mejores prácticas disponibles a través de la plataforma de construcción sostenible “Construction21”, de la cual la Cátedra UNESCO lleva el Secretariado en España. Además, hemos colaborado con empresas del sector privado (Hyspalit), así como con fabricantes de productos auxiliares (BNL) o de mobiliario urbano (JCDecaux).

Artículos destacados

Appropriate selection of construction materials plays a major role in a building's sustainable profile. The study sets out a comparative life cycle assessment of indoor flooring systems of different nature. The flooring systems consisted of coverings and, where required, bonding material and/or impact soundproofing material. The following coverings were assessed: inorganic (natural stone and ceramic tiles), polymer (carpeting and PVC), and wood-based (laminate and parquet) coverings. The life cycle assessment scope was defined cradle to cradle, i.e. product stage, transport to the construction site, installation of all construction elements, use, and valorisation by recycling, as end-of-life transition scenario towards a circular economy. In the use stage, three scenarios were defined as a function of pedestrian traffic intensity, which determined maintenance, repair, and replacement operations and frequencies. The environmental impacts of the coverings product stage were taken from previously assessed and selected Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), as these are standardised public documents devised to provide environmental life cycle information. The method adopted in the study suggests that, though the use of EPDs as information source is interesting, erroneous conclusions may be drawn if the EPDs are not comparable and/or if the comparison is not made in the building context. The results indicate that the flooring systems with inorganic coverings performed best in the global warming, acidification, eutrophication, photochemical ozone creation, and abiotic depletion for fossil resources impact categories, whereas laminates performed best in the abiotic depletion for non-fossil resources and ozone layer depletion impact categories. The carpet flooring system performed worst in every impact category except photochemical ozone creation potential.

Research on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was initially performed to analyze specific products; however, it evolved to assess environmental impacts of more complex systems, such as roads. In this, the construction, use and maintenance stages are usually considered. The results of different studies revealed that all stages have relevant environmental impacts like topsoil loss, change in the use of land, modification of natural drainage and groundwater patterns, landslides, erosion, sedimentation, landscape degradation, increase in noise and dust levels, fuel and oil spills, waste generation, and air, soil and water pollution.

This paper presents the results of a literature review on the application of LCA in road construction as a tool to quantify the potential impacts derived from the use of traditional and alternative materials. The research showed that the most common materials found were recycled asphalt (concrete and bitumen), fly ash, and polymer. In addition, the environmental impact categories more commonly assessed were energy consumption and global warming potential (GWP). These results claimed that the construction of roads should be directed towards the fulfilment of technical, social, economic and environmental criteria. Finally, it was found that most of the studies were performed for high traffic volume roads; therefore, for developing countries, research is needed focussed on low traffic ones.


Porcelain stoneware tile (PST) is currently the ceramic tile of greatest commercial and innovation interest. An environmental life cycle assessment of different varieties of PST was undertaken to enable hotspots to be identified, strategies to be defined, differences between PST varieties to be evaluated and guidance for PST manufacturers to be provided in choosing the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) programme that best suited their needs according to grouping criteria.


Analysis of previous information allowed three main parameters (thickness, glaze content and mechanical treatment) to be identified in order to encompass all PST variations. Fifteen varieties of PST were thus studied. The coverage of 1 m2 of household floor surface with the different PST varieties for 50 years was defined as functional unit. The study sets out environmental data whose traceability was verified by independent third parties for obtaining 14 EPDs of PST under Spanish EPD programmes.

Results and discussion

The study presents PST inventory analysis and environmental impact over the entire life cycle of the studied PST varieties. The natural gas consumed in the manufacturing stage accounted for more than 70% abiotic depletion–fossil fuels and global warming; electricity consumption accounted for more than 60% ozone layer depletion, while the electricity generated by the cogeneration systems avoided significant environmental impacts in the Spanish power grid mix. The variations in PST thickness, amount of glaze and mechanical treatments were evaluated. The PST variety with the lowest environmental impact was the one with the lowest thickness, was unglazed and had no mechanical treatments. Similarly, the PST variety with the highest environmental impact was the one with the greatest thickness, was glazed and had been mechanically treated.


The PST life cycle stage with the highest environmental impact was the manufacturing stage. The main hotspots found were production and consumption of energy and raw materials extraction. Variation in thickness was a key factor that proportionally influenced almost all studied impact categories; the quantity of glaze strongly modified abiotic depletion–elements and eutrophication, while the mechanical treatments contributed mainly to ozone depletion. The study of all PST varieties led to the important conclusion, against the current trend, that differences among them were found to be so significant that declaring a number of PSTs within the same EPD is not directly possible, and it needs preliminary verification to ensure compliance with the product category rule.

Tourism is a key industry in the Spanish economy. Spain was in the World top three ranking by international tourist arrivals and by income in 2015. The development of the tourism industry is essential to maintain the established economic system. However, if the environmental requirements were not taken into account, the country would face a negative effect on depletion of local environmental resources from which tourism depends. This case study evaluates, through a life cycle perspective, the average carbon footprint of an overnight stay in a Spanish coastland hotel by analyzing 14 two-to-five-stars hotels. Inventory and impact data are analyzed and presented both for resource use and greenhouse gases emissions, with the intention of helping in the environmental decision-making process. The main identified potential hotspots are electricity and fuels consumption (6 to 30 kWh/overnight stay and 24 to 127 MJ/overnight stay respectively), which are proportional to the number of stars and unoccupancy rate and they produce more than 75% of the impact. It is also revealed that voluntary implementation of environmental monitoring systems (like EMAS regulation) promotes collection of more detailed and accurate data, which helps in a more efficient use of resources. A literature review on LCA and tourism is also discussed. Spanish hotels inventory data presented here for the first time will be useful for tourism related managers (destination managers, policy makers and hotel managers among others) to calculate sustainability key indicators, which can lead to achieve real sustainable-tourism goals. Further data collection will be needed in future projects to gather representative data from more hotels, other accommodation facilities and also other products/services offered by tourist sector in Spain (like transport of tourists, food and beverage, culture-sports & recreation and others).

CO2nstrucción, proyecto financiado por el Ministerio de Vivienda por un período de tres años, tuvo como objetivo facilitar a los profesionales del sector de la construcción el cálculo de las emisiones de Gases de Efecto Invernadero (GEI) derivadas de la fabricación de productos de construcción. De esta manera, tanto las instituciones públicas como los profesionales del sector, pueden evaluar la repercusión ambiental de las decisiones relativas a la elección de materiales durante la fase del proyecto.

Proyectos destacados

Este documento de orientación es el resultado de la colaboración entre expertos en enfoque de ciclo de vida y turismo sostenible del ámbito de la academia, organizaciones internacionales y asociaciones industriales.

El objetivo principal del proyecto es promover la sostenibilidad de los destinos turísticos. Los principales resultados del proyecto incluyen el desarrollo de una metodología que incluye la combinación de ACV y tablas input-output para llevar a cabo evaluaciones de sostenibilidad de estos destinos, la selección de indicadores y la realización de una prueba piloto de la metodología.

El objetivo principal del proyecto es promover la eficiencia de los recursos y la reducción de los impactos ambientales asociados a la gestión urbana durante todas las fases de su ciclo de vida y también promover el uso de la metodología ACV. El resultado principal del proyecto incluye el desarrollo de una herramienta de software de ACV, en línea y gratuita, para la evaluación de los impactos relacionados con la energía y el consumo de agua de zonas urbanas de Francia, España y Portugal.

El objetivo principal del proyecto es identificar las mejores prácticas relacionadas con los Edificios de consumo energético casi nulo (en inglés, Net Zero Energy Buildings, NZEB) y las soluciones de industrialización aplicadas a edificios en España y Francia, identificando los principales desafíos y oportunidades en relación con la aplicación de la Directiva 2010/31/UE del Parlamento Europeo y del Consejo sobre la eficiencia energética en los edificios. El resultado principal del proyecto incluye la creación de una plataforma euroregional y virtual en España, Francia y en el resto del ámbito europeo, para debatir las mejores prácticas relacionadas con la industrialización de los Edificios de consumo energético casi nulo y recopilar casos de estudio y productos.

El objetivo principal del proyecto consiste en la construcción de una colaboración estratégica a largo plazo a través de las instituciones de enseñanza superior para mejorar la capacidad institucional y de investigación, en general, en términos de calificaciones académicas y prácticas de enseñanza. En particular, el proyecto tiene como fin desarrollar e implementar un programa de Másters sobre procedimientos innovadores de análisis de participación integrada de la viabilidad y conveniencia de los sistemas de energía en relación con la especificidad de los diferentes contextos socioeconómicos y geográficos.

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