Due to the rapid urbanization and the large contribution of cities to the global environmental impact, urban policies integrate sustainability in the public space design. Current literature has accounted for the environmental impact of the main elements of the urban fabric, although studies have dealt with them individually. This chapter aims to optimize the environmental performance of the urban fabric for supporting planning processes, based on existing life cycle assessment (LCA) data of the main elements of urban fabric: sidewalks, pavements, and the gas, water and wastewater networks. Material selection and lifespan are key issues in the environmental profile of the paved skin, while the installation accounts for the greatest share of the burdens in subterranean networks. The best design consists of concrete sidewalks, asphalt pavements, HDPE (high density polyethylene) gas pipes, PVC (polyvinyl chloride) water pipes, and concrete sewer pipes. Pavements and sidewalks are the most contributing elements to the overall environmental burdens of streets.
LCA Compendium – The Complete World of Life Cycle Assessment, cap 22
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