Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a method that evaluates the interactions of a product or service with the environment, considering its entire life cycle, and allows for the identification, qualitative description and quantification of the environmental and energy impacts associated with a product, process or service at all of its life stages.
In line with the most recent European policies, Life Cycle Thinking represents a useful reference for assessing via long-term vision the interaction of the infrastructure with the territorial context of reference.
In the absence of an already recognized standard on the subject, Italferr, in coherence with the objectives of the UNI EN ISO 14040 and 14044 standards, has defined in a specific Guideline the methodological approach to develop an assessment of the life cycle of a railway infrastructure in order to direct design choices aimed at guaranteeing a more profitable balance between the structure and the environment.
In fact, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) aims to analyse the "environmental profile" of a rail infrastructure project or construction process by considering all phases of its useful life, from extraction and acquisition of raw materials to final decommissioning, while assessing the possibilities for mitigation or reduction of impacts. The LCA methodology thus becomes an operational tool for integrating sustainability into project development and for measuring the environmental and energy loads of the entire "railway system".