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unilogo Universität Stuttgart
Institute of Hydraulic Engineering

Research: VEGAS - Research Facility for Subsurface Remediation

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Life cycle assessment of brownfield redevelopment
Project manager:PD Dr.-Ing. Baldur Barczewski
Deputy:Dr.-Ing. Volker Schrenk, Dipl.-Geoökol.
Research assistants:Dr.-Ing. Volker Schrenk, Dipl.-Geoökol.
Duration:1.5.2002 - 31.12.2004
Funding:Landesanstalt für Umwelt, Messungen und Naturschutz Baden-Württemberg (LUBW)
Comments:

This project is part of the research area:
Brownfield redevelopment and life cycle assessment

Publications: Link

Abstract:

Brownfield redevelopment is essential for reducing the high land consumption and for promoting a sustainable future. The remediation of contaminated sites or the preparation of construction sites on brownfields (excavation, transportation, operation of pumps and units) causes impacts on the environment (e. g. emissions, energy consumption, waste). What are the ecological consequences of brownfield redevelopment projects? Life cycle assessment (LCA) offers a feasible way to estimate the environmental impacts and can help to answer this question. Therefore, LCA could be the basis for an ecological optimization of such projects.

At the research facility for subsurface remediation (VEGAS) at the University of Stuttgart, Germany, a research project on the topic of life cycle assessment was worked with the aim of extensively balancing brownfield redevelopment projects and new remediation technologies under ecological criteria. The main objective was the estimation of the ecological impacts during the redevelopment of brownfield sites for construction purposes.

The results of the research show during most of the brownfield redevelopment projects the contaminated soil was excavated and transported to waste dumps. This is reflected in a high energy consumption and the typical traffic emissions. In other cases contaminated soil was treated in remediation facilities on-site, or in some cases off-site. On-site treatment of contaminated material reduces transportation distances, so that the main impacts on environment are caused by the remediation and construction works on the site itself. Off-site treatment requires transportation of the contaminated material to the facility. In some balanced cases, more than 50 % of the environmental effects of brownfield redevelopment projects were caused by the transports to the off-site treatment and the transportation of the cleaned material.

Some possibilities for the optimization of projects under ecological criteria are:
  • the selection of the remediation techniques: on-site treatment techniques of soil often have ecological advantages in comparison to off-site treatment because transports can be avoided. The innovative method “thermally enhanced soil vapor extraction” has some ecological advantages in comparison to the conventional method of soil vapor extraction.
  • the way of transportation: ship and railway are better than trucks
  • the reduction of transportation distances by using other treatment facilities.