Environmental Potential of Earth-Based Building Materials: Key Facts and Issues from a Life Cycle Assessment Perspective

The global challenge of large scale climate change mitigation requires action also in the building and construction sector. From a life cycle perspective, and considering the mitigation timeframe, the issue of reducing embodied GHG emissions is gaining attention. Effective ways to reduce embodied GHG emissions have been proposed by the use of fast-growing, bio-based materials, due to carbon sequestered in the biomass. Another promising, yet largely under-explored option is to harness the environmental potentials and low embodied GHG emissions of earth-based materials for building construction. Earth construction dates back from 10,000 to 8000 BC and has been derived in many vernacular construction techniques. More recently, some earthen techniques have been modified, using stabilizers, mainly cement and lime, to increase strength and water stability. The objective of this article is to compare existing literature performed on the LCAs applied to various earthen construction techniques and seek for key factors.


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