A comprehensive framework for standardising system boundary definition in life cycle energy assessments

Hossein Omrany*, Veronica Soebarto, Jian Zuo, Ruidong Chang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
63 Downloads (Pure)


This paper aims to propose a comprehensive framework for a clear description of system boundary conditions in life cycle energy assessment (LCEA) analysis in order to promote the incor-poration of embodied energy impacts into building energy-efficiency regulations (BEERs). The proposed framework was developed based on an extensive review of 66 studies representing 243 case studies in over 15 countries. The framework consists of six distinctive dimensions, i.e., temporal, physical, methodological, hypothetical, spatial, and functional. These dimensions encapsulate 15 components collectively. The proposed framework possesses two key characteristics; first, its application facilitates defining the conditions of a system boundary within a transparent context. This consequently leads to increasing reliability of obtained LCEA results for decision-making purposes since any particular conditions (e.g., truncation or assumption) considered in establishing the boundaries of a system under study can be revealed. Second, the use of a framework can also pro-vide a meaningful basis for cross comparing cases within a global context. This characteristic can further result in identifying best practices for the design of buildings with low life cycle energy use performance. Furthermore, this paper applies the proposed framework to analyse the LCEA performance of a case study in Adelaide, Australia. Thereafter, the framework is utilised to cross com-pare the achieved LCEA results with a case study retrieved from literature in order to demonstrate the framework’s capacity for cross comparison. The results indicate the capability of the framework for maintaining transparency in establishing a system boundary in an LCEA analysis, as well as a standardised basis for cross comparing cases. This study also offers recommendations for policy makers in the building sector to incorporate embodied energy into BEERs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number230
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


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