The construction sector has a significant social and economic impact on the European Union (EU), contributing towards employment opportunities (over 20 million directly dependent jobs). However, it is important to take into account the negative impacts of this industry, especially regarding the environment. As an important resources consumer, the construction industry can play an active role developing new strategies for minimizing impacts on the environment throughout the life cycle of buildings and its components.
The Construction Products Regulation (CPR) has contributed to set the quality standards for building products. The inclusion of ‘Sustainable use of natural resources’ as a basic requirement in the CPR has been an important step towards the acknowledgment of environmental impacts on construction products. Assessing the negative effects in product development at the early stages is one of the most effective methods to improve their environmental performance.
The concept of Eco-design has emerged as an approach to environmental management, by considering environmental aspects in the product development, without compromising other basic requirements, such as performance, quality and cost. The consideration of this approach at the early stages of construction product development contributes to the improvement of their environmental performance. Several methodologies and tools regarding an Eco-design approach have been developed over the last years. However, there are still research opportunities regarding its application within the construction industry.
In this paper, a concise review of the most significant tools, methods and regulation regarding the Eco-design approach is given, considering its application to the development of innovative and sustainable construction products.
eco-construction, eco-design, sustainability
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