An overview of construction and demolition waste management in Canada: A lifecycle analysis approach to sustainability

Article (PDF Available)inClean Technologies and Environmental Policy 15(1) · February 2012with 5,458 Reads
DOI: 10.1007/s10098-012-0481-6
The construction and demolition (C&D) waste generated by the Canadian construction industry accounts for 27 % of the total municipal solid waste disposed in landfills. However, it is evident that over 75 % of what the construction industry generates as waste has a residual value, and therefore could be recycled, salvaged and/or reused. The need for comprehensive and integrated waste management mechanisms, technologies, rating systems and policies is widely recognized. Owing to increasing C&D waste volumes, shortage of landfills and long-term adverse environmental, economic and social impacts of the disposed C&D waste, sustainable C&D waste management is becoming increasingly essential to protect public health and natural ecosystems. This paper proposes a conceptual C&D waste management framework to maximise the 3R (reduce, reuse and recycle) and minimise the disposal of construction waste by implementing sustainable and comprehensive strategy throughout the lifecycle of construction projects. In addition, a life cycle based C&D waste sustainability index is developed. This approach can be used to make decisions related to selection of material, sorting, recycle/reuse and treatment or disposal options for C&D waste.
An overview of construction and demolition waste management
in Canada: a lifecycle analysis approach to sustainability
Muluken Yeheyis Kasun Hewage
M. Shahria Alam Cigdem Eskicioglu
Rehan Sadiq
Received: 7 December 2011 / Accepted: 8 March 2012 / Published online: 25 March 2012
Springer-Verlag 2012
Abstract The construction and demolition (C&D) waste
generated by the Canadian construction industry accounts
for 27 % of the total municipal solid waste disposed in
landfills. However, it is evident that over 75 % of what the
construction industry generates as waste has a residual
value, and therefore could be recycled, salvaged and/or
reused. The need for comprehensive and integrated waste
management mechanisms, technologies, rating systems and
policies is widely recognized. Owing to increasing C&D
waste volumes, shortage of landfills and long-term adverse
environmental, economic and social impacts of the dis-
posed C&D waste, sustainable C&D waste management is
becoming increasingly essential to protect public health
and natural ecosystems. This paper proposes a conceptual
C&D waste management framework to maximise the 3R
(reduce, reuse and recycle) and minimise the disposal of
construction waste by implementing sustainable and com-
prehensive strategy throughout the lifecycle of construction
projects. In addition, a life cycle based C&D waste sus-
tainability index is developed. This approach can be used
to make decisions related to selection of material, sorting,
recycle/reuse and treatment or disposal options for C&D
Keywords Construction and demolition waste Waste
management Sustainability Lifecycle analysis (LCA)
The construction and demolition (C&D) waste can be
defined as waste material produced in the process of con-
struction, renovation or demolition of structures (Statistics
Canada 2000). The C&D is often a significant component,
representing 20–30 % and sometimes more than 50 % of
the total municipal solid waste. C&D waste is composed
mainly of wood products, asphalt, drywall, concrete and
masonry. Other components often present in significant
quantities include metals, plastics, earth, shingles, insula-
tion and paper and cardboard (USEPA 1995).
Construction activities consume 32 % of the world’s
resources including 12 % of water and up to 40 % of
energy. Approximately, 40 % of all raw materials extracted
from the earth and 25 % of virgin wood are used for
construction (GBCA 2009). C&D waste has created neg-
ative impacts on environment (water and soil pollution, air
pollution, climate change and adverse effects on flora and
fauna), economy (loss of primary resources, international
reputation, effect on tourism and fuel consumption in
transportation) and public health and social life (health
hazards, use of public space, proliferation of pests and
impact on working safety) (Spies 2009).
After the end of World War II, most of the regulations in
developed nations have encouraged C&D waste manage-
ment. Many of these regulations have been promulgated to
reduce environmental impacts. Incentives have often been
introduced to avoid the use of virgin material and dis-
courage landfilling and incineration of C&D waste through
heavy taxation and penalties (Poon 2007). The main C&D
waste management systems include waste avoidance and
minimisation through recycling/reusing, waste to energy
options (where possible) and safe disposal and discharge
only as a last resort (Marchettini et al. 2007).
M. Yeheyis K. Hewage M. S. Alam C. Eskicioglu
R. Sadiq (&)
School of Engineering, Okanagan Campus, The University
of British Columbia, 1137 Alumni Avenue, Kelowna,
BC V1V 1V7, Canada
Clean Techn Environ Policy (2013) 15:81–91
DOI 10.1007/s10098-012-0481-6
The C&D wastes are mainly generated due to design
errors, improper procurement and planning, inefficient
material handling, residues of raw materials and unex-
pected changes in building design. On the other hand,
improvements in site practices and building design may
substantially contribute to waste reduction (Bossink and
Brouwers 1996). Table 1lists various C&D waste materi-
als and their recycling/reusing potential. Key concepts
related to C&D waste management are described in the
This refers to source reduction or resource optimization. It
is a precautionary technique aimed at minimising the waste
generated from the source before it becomes a physical
problem. Practical examples would be reducing the amount
of packaging that comes on site, using efficient framing
techniques or changing design principles and practices
(design structures on a modular basis) (Vleck 2001).
Reuse refers returning a part of the waste stream of a
product to be used repeatedly for the same purpose. Effec-
tive reuse preserves the present structure of a material or
article and does not require additional time or energy for
utility. Examples of reuse include the immediate reuse of
materials on site extracted from a demolition/deconstruction
project, or reusing left over materials for a future or ongo-
ing project at another site. Recycling means separating,
collecting, processing, marketing and ultimately using a
material that would otherwise have been thrown away
(USEPA 1995).
This process breaks down the biodegradable (organic)
fraction of waste into CO
and water in the presence of
oxygen (aerobic) by microorganisms. The composting
residue is an organic-rich product that can be used as soil
improver in agriculture or land reclamation. Composting
will divert the biodegradable fraction of C&D waste from
landfills; therefore, will avoid/reduce the production of
uncontrolled landfill methane emissions (one of the major
greenhouse gas emissions or GHGs) and leachate (liquid
that drains from the landfill).
It refers to the oxidation ofcombustible waste to produce heat,
and oxygen. Although there is great public opposition to
the incineration due to emissions to air (carbon monoxide,
hydrogen fluoride, sulphur dioxide, volatile organic carbon,
dioxins and furans, heavy metals, etc.), it can be the only
allowable disposal option for many hazardous (highly flam-
mable, volatile, toxic and infectious) wastes. For example,
clinical (medical) waste is banned from the landfills in UK and
US due to the potential health risks, and similarly, any recycle/
reuse must be done after sterilization (Chung and Lo 2003).
Hazardous materials fromthe C&D site such as asbestos, lead
paint, lamp ballasts [polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and
Table 1 C&D waste type and its recycling/reuse potential
C&D waste Recycle/reuse potential Biodegradable
Potential for
Potential for
Concrete Recycled aggregate for road base, and for concrete No Yes No
Steel Recyclable to steel No No No
Brick and block Backfill, recycled aggregate No Yes No
Insulation Insulate attic or as sound proofing on interior walls No No Yes
Glass Finer glass as pozzolans in cement No Yes No
Ceramic Possibly recyclable as filling material as a coarse
aggregate for concrete
No Yes No
Aluminium Recyclable to aluminium No No No
Plastic Recyclable to any form Some can be
No Yes
Paint Reusable as paint/concrete admixture Some can be
No Yes
Wood Recyclable to veneer board/paper pulp Yes Yes Yes
Gypsum board Recyclable to new board, crushed wall as clay
and silt mixture and can be composed
Yes No No
Card board Composting, fire kindling, paper production Yes Yes Yes
Asbestos No No If properly sealed No
82 M. Yeheyis et al.
non-PCB], mercury-containing equipment (pressured gauges,
flow meters, heating and air conditioning thermostats, tilt
switches, drain traps in old buildings), batteries must be
labelled and disposed according to national Environmental
Health & Safety rules.
This is the final option used for construction waste dis-
posal. Many of the items that end up in the landfill are
reusable or recyclable. Landfilling and ocean disposal of
C&D waste pose a serious threat to the environment. In
recent years, numerous research articles have highlighted
the immense environmental and socio-economic impacts of
C&D waste (Cochran et al. 2007). Mega cities have already
been suffering from scarcity of available land spaces;
moreover, the rates of landfilling have also been increasing
and are expected to maintain the same trend in a foresee-
able future (Poon 2007). In addition to the availability of
land and the increasing prices of landfilling, other main
motives behind C&D waste management are environmen-
tal protection, resource conservation and sustainability in
development for the welfare of human beings.
Sustainable construction has received much attention
throughout the world over the last few years. Consequently,
some countries have successfully implemented sustainable
construction including Denmark, the Netherlands and
Japan with the recycling rates of 80, 75 and 65 %,
respectively (Hendriks and Pietersen 2000). In Canada, the
recycling rate is still lower despite substantial strides by the
Federal Government towards greening its operations over
the past few years. In order to achieve high recycling/
reusing rates, a comprehensive and integrated C&D waste
management plan must exist and be carefully implemented.
This paper proposes a conceptual C&D waste manage-
ment framework that maximises the 3R (reduce, reuse and
recycle) and minimises the disposal of construction waste
by implementing sustainable and comprehensive strategy
throughout the lifecycle of a construction project. A com-
posite construction waste and demolition waste sustain-
ability index, which can be used to make decisions related
to selection of material, sorting, recycle/reuse and treat-
ment or disposal options for C&D waste, has also been
developed. The paper is mainly divided into five sections.
The first section provides general background information
on C&D waste and its negative impacts. The second sec-
tion provides an overview of C&D waste generation and
management in Canada, the regulatory constraints, and the
building rating systems currently used. The third and fourth
sections contain detailed discussions on the proposed life-
cycle-based framework and sustainability index systems,
respectively. Finally, the paper concludes with a summary
of the key findings.
Challenges and opportunities for C&D waste
management in Canada
C&D waste generation
It is estimated that the construction industry in Canada
generates about 9 million tons of C&D waste annually.
This amount accounts for one-third of solid waste stream of
the country. For the most part, construction wastes are
largely inactive. The major problem is that the waste is
bulky, hard to compress and is taking up more and more
room in overstrained and limited municipal landfills (CCA
1992). It is evident that over 80 % of the public infra-
structure in Canada will reach to the end of their lifecycle
by 2027 (CIC 2009). The federal government recently
announced $12-billion for new public infrastructure pro-
jects and $7.8-billion for renovating/rehabilitating ageing
infrastructure. In addition, the province of British Colum-
bia announced an additional $800-million for 113 public
infrastructure projects (BC Gov. 2011). Completion of
these construction projects will help in improving the
quality of life of Canadians, but the short- and long-term
negative impacts of C&D waste on public health and safety
and the environment are also of important considerations.
There is not much information available on the type and
volume of waste that is generated in the construction
industry. The Canadian Construction Association reported
a study that involved taking samples of wastes generated
from various commercial and residential structures at dif-
ferent points in their building, demolition or renovation.
The results indicated that wood and rubble were the two
major constituents of C&D wastes. Figure 1a, b in the form
of pie charts recap the information that was gathered during
the project (CCA 1992).
Utilizing C&D wastes–opportunities
Although Canada has vast land resources, its bigger cities
are currently facing enormous challenges in maintaining
and managing their landfill wastes, which are being filled
at a very fast rate. This might have significant impact on
the newly generated wastes that will require travelling
further distances to another landfill. Now time has come to
look at the system from a different perspective, i.e. rather
than looking at the pile of wastes as a problem, it should
be considered as a great resource, which can lead to the
development and implementation of sustainable materials
in construction. In many Scandinavian countries, high
recycling rates can be attributed to the quality of the fin-
ished new product using recycled C&D wastes (Slater
and Alam 2011). In order to reach a high recycling rate in
any country, a comprehensive plan must exist and be
A lifecycle analysis approach to sustainability 83
One of the challenges of having a large amount of C&D
waste is to reuse/recycle it into new products or services
and thus provide a sustainable solution in construction
practices for the betterment of the environment. In Canada,
concrete waste (Rubble) is the largest by weight (52 %)
among all the C&D wastes (Abbas et al. 2006). Since
natural aggregate sources are quickly diminishing due to
increasing infrastructure needs and less available alterna-
tives, recycled concrete aggregate (RCA) is a viable option
to meet the demand. The major advantages of RCA include
reduced use of virgin aggregate offsetting its related
exploration, transportation and environmental costs and
reduced load on the landfill (Abbas et al. 2006). For
instance, if any old concrete structure needs to be replaced
with a new structure, the demolished concrete can be
screened to sort out impurities and stored beside the con-
struction site, and then can be readily used as coarse
aggregate for new concrete. Besides RCA brick blocks,
crushed tiles have good potential to be used as coarse
aggregate and crushed glass as fine aggregate. The use of
waste latex paint in concrete improves the workability, and
can be used as an admixture in the concrete mix (Nehdi and
Sumner 2003).
Regulatory frameworks and building rating systems
The construction waste management sector in Canada is
regulated by provincial and municipal regulations.
Municipalities often manage or control C&D waste man-
agement practices at the municipal level. Many munici-
palities in Canada have by-laws in place outlawing the
landfilling of specific C&D material (e.g. drywall, etc.).
The requirements change by location across the country
(PWGSC 2011). At present, there are no binding federal
regulations or legislation in Canada requiring the imple-
mentation of solid waste reduction measures for C&D
waste. However, federal government policies have recently
been developed. In October 1989, the Canadian Council of
Ministers of the Environment adopted the reduction of
wastes in Canada by 50 % by the year 2000. National
Packaging Protocol broadcasted in April 1990 to reduce the
waste from packaging by 50 % by the year 2000. Pack-
aging contributes for 30 % of the waste stream and rep-
resents the main single element in landfills. Dedicated to
meeting the 50 % reduction target, the federal government,
in collaboration with provincial and territorial govern-
ments, the private sector and community groups, promote
the ‘3R’s of waste management.
At provincial level, Ontario is the only province regu-
lating the necessity of waste management programs for
C&D projects. In 1994, the Ontario Ministry of the Envi-
ronment (MOE) passed the 3Rs Regulations. The 3Rs
Regulations are intended to ensure that municipalities as
well as industrial, commercial and institutional sectors,
develop strategies to reduce the amount of material being
sent to landfill. The goal of the regulations was to reduce at
least 50 % of the waste material requiring disposal in
landfill by the year 2000 compared to the base year of
1987. The two applicable regulations pertaining to C&D
projects are Regulations 102/94 and 103/94. Ontario Reg-
ulation 102/94 requires building or business owners to
conduct waste audits, develop and implement waste
reduction plans and update the audits and plans annually.
In the beginning of 2007, the Province has put a renewed
emphasis on enforcing this regulation. Ontario Regulation
103/04 builds on Ontario Regulation 102/94 and requires
owners of the establishments listed in that regulation, and
owners of multi-unit residential (apartment) buildings with
six or more units, to have source separation programs for
specified wastes and to ensure that the wastes are recycled.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
(LEED) standards are used to assess overall sustainability
of construction projects in Canada. The Canada Green
Building Council (CaGBC) is accountable for substituting
Fig. 1 Construction and
demolition waste composition:
aConstruction Waste
Composition, bDemolition
Waste Composition (The
Canadian Construction
Association 1992)
84 M. Yeheyis et al.
the US LEED rating systems to Canadian construction
practices, regulations and climates. The mission of CaGBC
is to increase healthy green buildings, high-performing,
homes and communities throughout the country. The
Council works to change industry standards, develop better
design practices and guidelines, advocate for green build-
ings and develop educational tools to support its members
in implementing sustainable design and construction prac-
tices (Brydon 2011). Key elements to sustainable building
design in waste management practices are waste reduction,
recycling content and existing building reuse (Brydon
2011). However, LEED does not consider the type of waste
material and its potential threats to the environment. For
example, the LEED (School-2007, ME 2.1) uses a point
scale for waste handling, e.g. it gives either 1 or 2 points for
50 or 75 % of waste recycled/reused, respectively (LEED
2009). A construction project can get LEED certification if
it is recycling/reusing 75 % of the C&D waste, though
remaining waste which may be more harmful and can be
sent to landfills without any penalty. There is a pressing
need for an integrated tool that can combine waste man-
agement mechanisms, technologies, rating systems and
policies in a more rational and pragmatic way.
Lifecycle analysis approach to sustainable C&D waste
Waste is produced in different types and quantities
throughout the life-cycle of a building with the bulk of the
waste being produced during the C&D phases (Dolan et al.
1999). In order to overcome the increasing concern of
resource depletion and to address environmental consid-
erations, lifecycle analysis (LCA) is becoming popular in
decision-making process, by making sustainability as a
driver in the development of construction industry. LCA
provides a methodology for evaluating the environmental
load of processes and products (goods and services) during
their lifecycle from cradle to grave. The description of the
LCA methodology is based on the International Standards
of series ISO 14040 and consists of four distinct steps:
(i) defining the goal and scope, (ii) creating the lifecycle
inventory, (iii) assessing the impact and (iv) interpreting
the results (Khan et al. 2004). The implementation of LCA
in the construction industry can be performed through two
different ways, i.e. (a) building material (BM) and
(b) construction process (CP).
The proposed integrated C&D waste management
framework is divided into three lifecycle stages of the
construction project: the pre-construction (planning and
design) stage, the construction and renovation stage and the
demolition stage, as shown in Fig. 2. At each stage of the
construction project life time, the framework adopts the 3R
approach (reduce, reuse and recycle) and strives to maxi-
mise the reuse and recycle and to minimise disposal of the
C&D waste. Reuse and recycling can help to conserve
natural resources and ecologies, reduce pollution, save
energy and reduce the need for landfill and incineration and
the associated environmental impacts of these technologies.
Efficient Framing
Reduce Packaging
Decision Support Tool
Lifecycle Analysis (LCA) based C&D Management
Pre - Construction Construction & Renovation Demolition
Selective Demolition
Partial Selective
Complete Selective
Sustainability Preference
C &D Waste Management Hierarchy
Incineration Landfilling Composting
Reduce Reuse/ Recycle Dispose
Demolition Waste
Collection and Sorting
Construction Waste
Collection and Sorting
Construction Waste LCA-based Sustainability Index (CWLSI)
Secondary Building Material
Recyclable/ Reusable
Onsite reuse
Material Delivery
Material Storage
Material Use
Green Building
Salvageable Material
Fig. 2 Conceptual framework for lifecycle-based integrated C&D waste management system
A lifecycle analysis approach to sustainability 85
While reuse refers to the use of the whole component again,
with the same function, recycling is done by melting or
crushing the component, which then enters into a new
manufacturing process (Reza et al. 2011). If it is not pos-
sible to reuse or recycle a building component, only then the
waste manager should find a way for its final disposal.
Pre-construction stage
Planning and design considerations
During the planning phase, waste managers should develop
a C&D Waste Management Strategy and establish overall
waste diversion goals. Ekanayake and Ofori (2004) dis-
covered that erroneous and incomplete contract documents
at the commencement of a project contribute to construction
waste generation. During the design phase, designers should
specify builders be required to design a Waste Management
Plan for each construction project. Gavilan and Bernold
(1994) identified design and detailing errors and design
changes as significant sources of generating construction
waste. Faniran and Caban (1993) ranked design and detail-
ing errors as the number one source for construction waste
generation. In addition, Poon (2007) noted that last minute
design changes to satisfy the client requirements cause
demolition of new construction, which generates C&D
waste. To minimise this problem, design concepts should be
finalized as much as possible during the early project stages
or at least before the start of construction phase.
Bossink and Brouwers (1996) found that limited knowl-
edge of construction and constructability during the project
design stage is the main reason for waste generation.
They also mentioned several other ways that can cause
construction waste, such as errors in contract documents,
starting construction with incomplete documents, design
changes during construction, designer unfamiliarity of
products and problems with specifications related to the
quality control and quality assurance procedures. Osmani
et al. (2008) found two main contributing factors for con-
struction waste: (1) the waste minimisation is not a priority
requirement during the project design stage, although ini-
tial design decisions contribute to one-third of construction
waste and (2) lack of interest of the client for waste min-
imisation. Ekanayake and Ofori (2000) found that avoiding
waste in the designing stage is the best way to address
the problem. They further said, design errors and related
problems create significant amount of waste and the field
construction professionals have minimal control over it.
Ekanayake and Ofori (2000) ranked designers’ inexperi-
ence, design during the project construction stage, lack of
data to determine construction methods and inadequate
knowledge in the sequence of construction activities, as the
most important factors for construction waste. Appropriate
clients’ project procurement systems, based on contractors’
input on activity sequence, should be promoted to help the
decision making process during the design stage, to avoid
unnecessary extra and re-work during the construction
stage. Contractors must be well informed about feasible
cost savings in reducing construction waste and the adverse
effects of construction waste on the environment. Project
clients should also be convinced on advantages of waste
minimisation and environmental protection (Ekanayake
and Ofori 2000).
BIM integration
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a useful tool for
the construction data management and is capable of
information retrieval in a user-friendly visual format
(Goedert and Meadati 2008). The concept of BIM is to
build the project virtually so that all facets of the project
can be properly planned before site construction begins.
This level of preplanning includes spatial coordination of
all the materials, labour and sequencing for the construc-
tion of the project, and then allows virtual planning that
how the building will be used or reused (Smith 2006). The
premise behind BIM is coordination among all stakehold-
ers in different phases over the lifecycle of a facility that
will help to insert, extract, update or modify information.
In addition to visual aspects of the building elements (i.e.
3D parametric modelling), the references to 4D (i.e. adding
time dimension) and 5D (i.e. adding quantities and cost of
materials) can also be effectively considered in BIM
(Committee BIM 2007). Further, BIM Server is the idea of
a centralised service that host core building data as a facet
of software architecture in the client server paradigm,
enabling real time collaboration as changes to the model
are reflected on all clients each time they log on to the
server and get refreshed data (Smith 2006).
Extensible Markup Language (XML) can be used as a
protocol for transferring packets of data because of its
ubiquity to achieve interoperability across such a large
fragmented industry. Best example is the green building
XML schema (gbXML)-LEED 8.1 certified, provides a
standard exchange mechanism between sources of BIM
and ‘energy analysis and simulation products’. With BIM
Server and interoperability schema, construction waste can
be optimised to a minimum by networked monitoring,
approaching to the concept of Zero Construction Waste and
minimising the tendency of construction industry to gen-
erate waste for landfills. Technological advancements can
positively improve construction productivity and waste
management process (Hewage and Ruwanpura 2007).
However, these technological advancements alone will not
necessarily provide the solution for the mammoth chal-
lenges of C&D wastes. A three-tier process that includes
86 M. Yeheyis et al.
improvements in the C&D waste management processes
and practices, implementation of guidelines and policies
and the use of advanced information technologies are vital
to maximise the benefits of C&D waste.
Construction site waste minimisation strategies
Construction site waste minimisation strategies can be
divided into two categories: (1) planning and (2) control-
ling. Planning strategies is the best practice to minimise
waste and these include procurement of materials, design,
construction scheduling and site layout. Controlling strat-
egies include delivery and handling of materials, security,
storage waste accounting, recordkeeping, safety, education
and training and maintenance of machinery. Proper man-
agement of materials plays a major role in site waste
reduction (Ekanayake and Ofori 2004).
Demolition waste management
The amount of solid waste generated in a form appropriate
for reuse or recycling is largely dependent on the demoli-
tion method used to remove materials from a facility. The
economic feasibility of a recycling project depends on the
amount of handling and processing necessary to condition
the goods according to the needs of the markets. In essence,
the more mixed the waste, the more separation required
before processing the waste. This additional processing
increases the final cost of waste recycling. Most techniques
have been developed to perform the demolition quickly and
efficiently. Any amount of ‘processing’ of the raw wreck-
age, such as shredding or grinding, should be done to
decrease the transportation cost by reducing volume. Ide-
ally, this means that all materials are demolished at the
same time and into the same pile of material. Any post-
demolition separation that occurs at this point involves
mostly recovery of scrap metal or removal of any material
that may substantially increase the cost of disposal, such as
hazardous materials.
Construction waste LCA-based sustainability index
Quantitative measurement and assessment of sustainability
is a challenging task in C&D waste management. Com-
posite indicators have been increasingly used to summarise
complex or multi-dimensional issues in view of supporting
decision-makers. Composite indicators are synthetic indices
of individual indicators, where an indicator can be defined
as a ‘quantitative or qualitative measure derived from a
series of observed facts that can reveal relative position in a
given area, and when measured over time, can point out the
direction of change’ (Freudenberg 2003). According to
Wolf (2009), composite indicators are popular for a wide
range of applications due to: (i) their ability to condense
large amounts of information into easy-to-understand for-
mats; (ii) their ease of application; and (iii) their conve-
nience as a communication and benchmarking tool.
The C&D waste sustainability assessment requires various
tiers of information that may include objectives, assessment
criteria, indices, indicators and performance data/variables/
parameters. Therefore, this section outlines the methodology
to be used in developing composite CWLSI that can help in
making decisions related to selection of material, sorting,
recycle/reuse and treatment or disposal options for C&D
waste over the construction project lifecycle.
The proposed methodology for calculating the CWLSI is
presented in Fig. 3. The procedure of calculating CWLSI is
divided into two main parts. The first part is selecting proper
C&D waste management indicators that belong to three
sub-indices (environmental, economical and social dimen-
sions) and then computing the sub-index. The second is
deriving the weights of sub-indices and combining these
weights with the sub-indices to obtain the final CWLSI. The
detailed steps for CWLSI construction are shown in Fig. 3.
Identification of indicators
The first step in developing CWLSI is selecting appropriate
indicators that belong to environmental, economical and
social factors. Indicators should be selected on the basis of
their analytical soundness, measurability, regional cover-
age, relevance to the phenomenon being measured and
relationship to each other (Saltelli 2006). Other important
selection criteria include validity, reliability, comparabil-
ity, simplicity and data availability (Morris 1979). For
sustainable C&D waste management evaluation, the envi-
ronmental dimension performance indicators may include
the quantity of C&D waste generated, C&D waste recy-
cled, composed, landfilled, and avoided emissions to air
and water from waste management facilities, etc. The
economic dimension of C&D waste management includes
all major costs and revenues associated with C&D waste
collection and transportation, recovery of recyclables,
composting and landfilling. Indicators useful for the eco-
nomic dimension C&D waste management may include
cost of C&D waste disposal, net cost of operating and
maintaining recycling facilities, fuel consumption (trans-
port), etc.). The Social dimension of C&D waste man-
agement includes indicators that exhibit the social
dimensions (social equity, social acceptability and social
function), and may include indicators such as public
acceptance of C&D waste management plans and actions,
public participation in planning and implementation,
human health impacts, working safety, etc.
A lifecycle analysis approach to sustainability 87
Standardization and normalization
The final sets of indicators developed under each dimen-
sions of sustainability (economic, environmental and
social) are expressed in different units and consequently
they cannot be used in their initial form for the calculation
of the sub-indices and of the CWLSI. Therefore, normali-
zation is usually applied to each indicator to make them
comparable, i.e. transforming the various scales of indi-
cators into one unique scale. The most common normali-
zation methods are (Albulescu 2010; Freudenberg 2003):
Statistical normalization consists in expressing all
values in standard deviation, so that the variables
average is equal to zero.
Empirical normalization supposes different techniques.
Usually, the benchmark is represented by the value of
the indicator in a reference year. Another method gives
the 0 value (Min) to the most unfavourable observed
value and 1 or 10 (Max) to the best recorded value. All
intermediary values are calculated based on the
formula: Y=X-Min/(Max -Min).
Axiological normalization, resembling to the empirical
approach with min and max limits, is characterized by
the fact that the limits are not statistically identified,
being chosen based on the undesirable situation, which
receives the ‘0’ value, and on the ideal situation, which
can or cannot correspond to a strategic objective and
which receives the value ‘1’.
Mathematical normalization consists in transforming
data by means of a mathematic function for the values
to range between an upper and a lower limit (e.g. -1
and ?1 or 0 and 1).
The issues that could guide the selection of the nor-
malization method include: whether hard or soft data are
available, whether exceptional behaviour needs to be
rewarded/penalised, whether information on absolute
Construction Waste LCA
Based Sustainability
Index (CWLSI)
Environmental Indicators
C&D waste generated
C&D waste recycled,
composed, landfilled
Avoided emissions to air
& water from waste
management facilities,
Economic Indicators
Cost of C&D waste
Net cost of operating
and maintaining
recycling facilities
Fuel Consumption
(transport), etc
Social Indicators
Public acceptance of C&D
waste management plans
and actions
Public participation in
planning and
Working safety, etc
C&D Waste Management
performance Indicator Selection
Defining the system
Indicator selection
Data collection
Environmental sub-Index Economic Sub-Index Social Sub-Index
Weighting and Aggregation
Fig. 3 Generic hierarchical
scheme for calculating the
construction and demolition
waste LCA-based sustainability
index (CWLSI)
88 M. Yeheyis et al.
levels matters and whether the variance in the indicators
needs to be accounted for (Nardo et al. 2005). For example,
in the presence of extreme values, normalisation methods
that are based on standard deviation or distance from the
mean are preferred.
Weighting and aggregation
Upon identification and normalization of indicators, the
next step is weighting and aggregating the individual
indicators into the three sub-indices for environmental,
economical and social dimensions; and aggregating these
sub-indices into the overall CWLSI. Each indicator must
thus be assigned a weight that determines its importance in
relation to the other indicators to determine the effect on
the index value caused by a change in the indicator value.
Several weighting techniques are available, such as
weighting schemes based on statistical models (e.g. factor
analysis, data envelopment analysis and unobserved com-
ponents models), or on participatory methods (e.g. bud-
get allocation and analytic hierarchy processes). Weighting
techniques are discussed in detail in Hermans et al. (2008)
and Nardo et al. (2005). The main advantages, disadvan-
tages and requirements of the most commonly used
weighting methods are summarized in Table 2.
The final step regards the choice of the aggregation
procedure to obtain the sub-indices (environmental sub-
index, economic sub-index and social sub-index) and the
composite index (CWLSI). Indicator aggregation methods
generally include logical operators (and, or), averaging or
compromising operators (arithmetic average, weighted
average, geometric mean and weighted product) and others
such as simple addition, root sum power, root sum-square
and multiplicative forms (Sadiq and Tesfamariam 2008;
Somlikova and Wachowiak 2001). Detailed discussions on
the selection of appropriate aggregation operators can
be found in Klir and Yuan (1995) and Somlikova and
Wachowiak (2001).
The review of the existing federal and provincial legislative
regulations and codes related to C&D waste management in
Canada reveals that the regulatory framework is not strong
enough and lack of enforcement mechanisms related to the
3Rs Regulations. This paper proposed a comprehensive
and integrated lifecycle-based C&D waste management
framework that incorporates the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and
recycle) into planning, design, construction, renovation and
demolition stages of the construction project life span. The
integrated C&D waste management approach significantly
reduces the material in the design and planning stages,
Table 2 Summary information on the five weighting methods (Hermans et al. 2008)
Weighting method Advantages Disadvantages Main requirements
Equal weighting Simple No insights in indicator importance
No added value for policymakers
Risk of double weighting
No valid results from other weighting methods
All indicators uncorrelated or highly correlated
Factor analysis Indicators are grouped
An interpretation can be given to each factor
Weights based on correlations may differ from
Some correlation between indicators
Justification of the optimal number of factors
Clear rotation results
Analytic hierarchy process Detailed expert information
Incorporate quantitative and qualitative criteria
Numerous levels of criteria
Carefully selected group of experts (with time)
Small number of criteria
Sufficiently different criteria
Budget allocation Comprehensible
Easy computation
Weight may indicate need for intervention
Weight may represent dimensions a country
performs on well
Carefully selected group of experts
Maximum number of indicators is 10
Data envelopment analysis Optimal weights derived from data
and restrictions
Value judgements can be included
No normalisation needed
Results are relative, i.e. influenced by the
countries in the data set
Sum of weights is not one (like for other
weighting methods)
Value judgements to obtain realistic weights
Several countries in data set
A lifecycle analysis approach to sustainability 89
reducing scrap and waste at your building site, reusing
materials on site and recycling materials. In addition, the
composite construction waste and demolition waste sus-
tainability index developed can be used to make decisions
related to selection of material, sorting, recycle/reuse and
treatment or disposal options for C&D waste.
Acknowledgments Authors thankfully acknowledge the financial
support of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council
(NSERC) of Canada through ENGAGE and DG programs of second
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A lifecycle analysis approach to sustainability 91
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