Life Cycle Information Models: Parameterized Linked Data Structures to Facilitate the Consistent Use of Life-Cycle Assessment in Decision Making

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Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering


The recent enactment of the Buy Clean Act (2017) in California requires highway construction contractors to produce an environmental product declaration (EPD) at the point of installation for a list of all eligible construction materials. An EPD is an instrument that communicates life cycle assessment (LCA) outcomes for a product or process in compliance with the ISO Standard 14025. LCA methodology requires the use of life cycle data from interconnected industries and sectors that contribute to the supply chain of a product. This provides a challenge of consistent and reliable use of inventory data for the LCA of pavements, specifically when considering the geographic expanse of energy profiles, supply chain diversity of pavement materials, and additives. Hence, the objective of this paper is to develop life-cycle information models (LCIMs) that serve two purposes: first, allows for pavement LCA domain-specific knowledge representation, management, and sharing; and second, allows for consistent, reliable, and transparent use of life cycle inventory data. The first purpose is achieved by developing an ontological representation of key components and relationships underlying a pavement LCA to support formal parametric data structures. The second purpose is achieved by identifying life cycle inventories to be mapped to the data structures through a collaboration with the Federal LCA Commons. As LCA software tools are developed to support decision making for departments of transportation, the ontological representation of the pavement domain can serve as a specification outlining a common set of protocols and LCIM designed for reuse to support reliable decision support applications.

Publication Title

Journal of Transportation Engineering Part B: Pavements