Environmental modelling of building stocks – An integrated review of life cycle-based assessment models to support EU policy making

Martin Röck*, Elena Baldereschi, Evelien Verellen, Alexander Passer, Serenella Sala, Karen Allacker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Various environmental challenges, particularly the rising severity of the impacts of climate change, require a systematic shift in and decarbonization of the global economy. Due to their high environmental impacts, buildings and construction have a special role in decarbonization. Environmental modelling of building stock dynamics can help policy makers and inform decision making. This study presents a systematic review of both the latest scientific literature on environmental modelling of building stocks and related EU policy initiatives. Our findings illuminate the strengths and limitations of existing approaches as well as the potential of such modelling and the required directions for future development to provide effective policy support. Based on the assessment of 104 scientific papers, our study shortlisted and analysed 22 environmental building stock modelling approaches. While promising, these show various limitations on their effectiveness in supporting decarbonization efforts while avoiding burden shifting. Future building stock models should offer extended system boundaries and comprehensive life cycle assessment, improved hotspot analysis and impact monitoring across spatiotemporal scales. A long-term perspective on the entire building stock covering climate and other environmental impacts is needed, as outlined in the latest standards. By linking existing studies to related EU policy objectives, we identify various studies that investigate scenarios and strategies relevant to EU policy makers and highlight research gaps. Future research should enable comprehensive environmental assessment of building stocks across scales and emphasize the monitoring of multiple environmental impacts of building stock development to ensure compliance with environmental targets and minimization of trade-offs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number111550
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Life cycle assessment (LCA)
  • Built environment
  • Spatial and temporal dynamics
  • Scenario analysis
  • Environmental impacts
  • Embodied impacts
  • Embodied carbon
  • Material flow analysis
  • Mitigation
  • Adaptation
  • Life cycle analysis
  • Environmental policy
  • Policy support
  • European green deal
  • Renovation wave
  • Energy retrofit
  • Systematic literature review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment

Fields of Expertise

  • Sustainable Systems

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