This review brings together research on life cycle assessment (LCA) applied within the building sector. More than ever, the construction industry is concerned with improving the social, economic and environmental indicators of sustainability. By applying LCA it is possible to optimise these aspects, from the extraction of raw materials to the final disposal of waste building materials. Firstly, ... [Show full abstract] this review details LCA concepts and focuses on the LCA methodology and tools employed in the built environment. Secondly, this paper outlines and discusses the differences between the LCA of building materials and components combinations versus the LCA of the full building life cycle. Finally, this work can be used by stakeholders as an important reference on LCA including up to date literature on approaches and methodologies to preserve the environment and therefore achieve sustainable development in both developed and developing countries.The present review has tried to compile and reflect the key milestones accomplished in LCA over the last 7 years, from 2000 to 2007 within the building sector. In summary, it can be stated that the application of LCA is fundamental to sustainability and improvement in building and construction. For industrial activities, SMEs must understand the application of LCA, not only to meet consumer demands for environmentally friendly products, but also to increase the productivity and competitiveness of the green construction markets. For this reason, this review looks at LCA because of its broad international acceptance as a means to improve environmental processes and services, and also for creating goals to prevent adverse environmental impacts, consequently enhancing quality of life and allowing people to live in a healthy environment.