Towards a pre-verified EPD tool with simulation capabilities for the aggregates industry

Sammanfattning: Aggregates are an indispensable component in the development of societies as they are the basic materials for most buildings and infrastructure projects. Therefore, understanding and taking actions regarding their environmental impact is necessary for the industry’s sustainable development and climate neutrality. This thesis focuses on the current challenges of the aggregates producers regarding the environmental aspects of their aggregates plants and aims at providing them with a tool for fact-based environmental decision-making. The three investigated areas are the current challenges of the aggregates producers, the potential usage of an EPD tool, and the development of such a tool. The proposed tool utilizes the LCA methodology and the standard for EPDs to calculate the environmental impact of aggregates plants. Additionally, it is coupled to process simulations as a step to enable proactive actions from the producers. To address the areas of interest two studies were conducted using a multiple and a single case study. Results suggest that challenges exist due to methodological and stakeholders’ aspects. Methodological challenges include the updated EN 15804 standard, the lack of a European PCR (Product Category Rules) specifically for aggregates, and the different processes adopted by different program operators in developing and verifying EPDs. Regarding stakeholders’ aspects, there may be difficulties with data (accessibility, availability, and quality), with knowledge transfer between LCA practitioners and plant managers, and with the varying interest of plant managers to be involved in environmental questions. The proposed tool can support the aggregate producers by simplifying the process of developing and verifying an EPD since the LCA module is locked and only the input data from the plant need verification. Additionally, such a  tool may enhance the collaboration between plant managers and LCA practitioners, improve the environmental awareness of the plant managers by involving them in the EPD and LCA processes and spark positive competitiveness among plant managers to achieve better environmental results. The aspects to be considered during the tool development are requirements by the EN 15804:A1+A2:2019 standard, the program operators, and the main customers. Additionally, data handling alternatives and the development and connection of a sector-specific LCA database are also needed. The proposed pre-verified EPD tool is not going to solve all the challenges that the aggregates producers are facing regarding environmental awareness and proactivity; however, it brings the possibility to develop an EPD easily and use the underlying work in the simulation environment.