THESES

Master’s theses

The construction sector is responsible for shelter and jobs, and at the same time accounts for a large share of raw material consumption, solid waste and emissions. Thus, sustainability is becoming increasingly relevant also and especially in this sector. Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA) is a framework focusing all three pillars of sustainability (economic, environmental and social), which helps assessing products and services – building material, components and construction projects – along their value chains.

LCSA in its current form is questioned and partly used in the construction sector. Even though it is partly used and there is no need to innovate, as the relevant tools exist and further approaches will only complicate the LCSA for decision makers in the construction sector, a ‘unified’ LCSA approach is assumed to be positive (by LCSA experts and construction practitioners).  Examples for unified approaches might be named Tiered Approach, PEF, EPF or Level(s).

Goal of this thesis is the definition, development and justified elaboration of such a ‘unified’ approach explicitly for the construction sector. The basis for this will be studies already published, company reports, and approaches already available and mentioned (level(s), tiered approach, PEF, EPD, etc.), which will be used and further developed. This approach should also lead to it being recognized in the scientific and practical world as a standardize application and interpretation approach. Furthermore, the combination of LCSA and SDGs is considered relevant. Especially with regard to communication, it is currently evident that challenges arise with regard to the selection of indicators, the dissemination of indicator content to non-experts, and the transformation of results into simple and easy-to-understand results – which will be improved by means of this thesis.

The thesis must be written in English.

Contact: Jana Backes – jana.backes@inab.rwth-aachen.de

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is an established methodology to assess and compare the environmental performance of products. For a holistic sustainability assessment (LCSA) and decision-making, also the economic and social perspectives are important. Economic performance can be examined with life cycle costing (LCC) and social performance with social life cycle assessment (S-LCA). Aluminium is an important non-ferrous working metal. Especially the trend towards lightweight construction in the automotive sector has increased the demand for aluminium enormously.

The aim of the thesis is to identify social hotspots in primary and secondary aluminium production. The findings will be related to the results of an already conducted LCA/LCC-study. The aim is further to identify trade-offs between the different pillars and show potential pitfalls. Moreover, it shall be discussed how results can be communicated to decision makers.

The following is part of the study:

    • state of the art of LCSA
    • state of the art of S-LCA in the metal industry
    • identification and classification of relevant stakeholders
    • identification of social hotspots in primary and secondary aluminium production
    • combination of findings with existing LCA/LCC-results
    • comprehensible presentation of results in the context of LCSA

The thesis must be written in English.

Contact: Anna Luthin – anna.luthin@inab.rwth-aachen.de

The high amount of concrete used in steel reinforced concrete constructions and the associated high CO2-emissions have led to the development of innovative materials such as carbon and glass-fiber reinforced concrete. Currently, the main question is what the environmental impact of the production and initial use of these materials is. But what about the cyclability of the various materials?
 
The aim of the thesis is to assess the circular performance of steel, carbon and glass-fiber reinforced concrete and put it into relation with the environmental performance to identify trade-offs.
 
The following is part of the study:
 
    • state of the art of cirularity assessment in the construction sector
    • selection and application of suitable CE-indicators for the evaluation of the circularity
    • combination of findings with existing LCA-results
    • comprehensible presentation of results

The thesis must be written in English.

Contact: Anna Luthin – anna.luthin@inab.rwth-aachen.de

Social life cycle assessment (S-LCA) is a relatively new methodology that is becoming increasingly important in research. Social aspects can be described both qualitatively and quantitatively. To ensure the comparability of different studies, reference values are of great importance.
 
The aim of the thesis is to develop a database on reference values by country and sector of the mainsubcategories/ indicators of the S-LCA.
 
The following is part of the study:
 
    • identification of mainsubcategories/ indicators of the S-LCA
    • selection of country-specific data (lit-review, questionnaires, interviews)
    • development of a tool that can be used by S-LCA performer

The thesis must be written in English.

Contact: Anna Luthin – anna.luthin@inab.rwth-aachen.de

Social life cycle assessment (S-LCA) is a relatively new methodology that is becoming increasingly important in research. Another important social aspect gaining attention is social acceptance. So far, it is not clear how (far) S-LCA can be used to address social acceptance with S-LCA.

The aim of the thesis is to compare the local community (and consumer) subcategories with social acceptance and propose how social acceptance can be integrated in S-LCA.

The following is part of the study:

    • Comparison of S-LCA subcategory “local community” (and “consumer”) and social acceptance
    • Research on relevant indicators for assess both
    • Development of integration method

The thesis must be written in English.

Contact: Anna Luthin – anna.luthin@inab.rwth-aachen.de

Research on circular economy has increased in recent years. Life cycle assessment was identified as an appropriate tool to assess environmental implications of circular economy strategies. Moreover, several CE-indicators were identified on micro, meso, and macro scale. But what about the economic dimension of sustainability?

The aim of the thesis is to identify how life cycle costing (LCC) can be used to assess circular economy. Moreover, relevant CE-indicators for the economic perspective, which of them are all ready covered by LCC and which have to be integrated should be examined.

The thesis must be written in English.

Contact: Anna Luthin – anna.luthin@inab.rwth-aachen.de

Bachelor’s theses

The aim of the theses is to conduct a systematic literature review on the state of the art regarding the application of the life cycle sustainability assessment (and the components thereof – life cycle assessment, life cycle costing and social life cycle assessment) in the context of pavement or road surface materials such as asphalt, concrete, etc.

The results of the research should answer (as a minimum) the following questions:

      • What are common functional units?
      • How are system boundaries defined in the various studies?
      • In what regions/local contexts were the studies done?
      • What are common data gaps?
      • Which stakeholder groups are defined as relevant?
      • What are the lifespans considered? What is the impact of lifespan on the results?
      • How are life cycle scenarios defined for use, maintenance, repair, end of life, etc.?
      • Which are the hotspots identified in the studies?

The thesis can be written in German and English.

Contact: Pamela del Rosario – Pamela.delrosario@inab.rwth-aachen.de

The aim of the work is to conduct a systematic literature review of the state of the art regarding the application of the life cycle sustainability assessment (and the components thereof – life cycle assessment, life cycle costing and social life cycle assessment) in the context of roads.

The results of the research should answer (as a minimum) the following questions:

      • What are common functional units?
      • How are system boundaries defined in the various studies?
      • In what regions/local contexts were the studies done?
      • What are common data gaps?
      • Which stakeholder groups are defined as relevant?
      • What are the lifespans considered? What is the impact of lifespan on the results?
      • How are life cycle scenarios defined for use, maintenance, repair, end of life, etc.?
      • Which are the hotspots identified in the studies?

The thesis can be written in German and English.

Contact: Pamela del Rosario – Pamela.delrosario@inab.rwth-aachen.de

Sustainability certification systems assess the relative degree of compliance with specific sustainability targets and requirements. In building construction, they are already very well established worldwide with systems such as LEED, BREEAM, DGNB, HQE, Active House and many more. However, in the field of road construction, the diffusion of such systems is still limited.

The aim of this work is to identify and analyze sustainability certification systems for transport infrastructure projects, especially in the context of road construction. The result will give an overview of which certification systems are applied in the context of road construction (especially in Europe), which sustainability dimensions and criteria are assessed as well as which methods are applied and how benchmarks are defined.

The thesis can be written in German and English.

Contact: Pamela del Rosario – Pamela.delrosario@inab.rwth-aachen.de

Research on circular economy has increased in recent years. Life cycle assessment was identified as an appropriate tool to assess environmental implications of circular economy strategies. Moreover, several CE-indicators were identified on micro, meso, and macro scale. But what about the economic dimension of sustainability?

The aim of the thesis is to identify how life cycle costing (LCC) can be used to assess circular economy. Moreover, relevant CE-indicators for the economic perspective, which of them are all ready covered by LCC and which have to be integrated should be examined.

The thesis must be written in English.

Contact: Anna Luthin – anna.luthin@inab.rwth-aachen.de

Seminar papers


No seminar papers available at this time.