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Sustainable
development is an emerging concept that enhance quality of life and thus
allowing people to live in a healthy environment and improve social, economic
and environmental conditions for present and future generations. Therefore, the
improving social, economic and environmental indicators of sustainable
development are drawing attention to the construction industry, which is a
globally emerging sector, and a highly active industry in both developed and
developing countries (Ullah, Perret et al. 2016).

The
iron and steel industry (ISI) is the world’s biggest energy consuming manufacturing
industry with the largest share in the world’s economy. In the iron and steel
production over world, China takes the first place, and Japan, U.S. follow it.
Iron and steel production is highly energy intensive and therefore it is
associated highly with resource conservation, energy efficiency, and emissions
reduction. In order to overcome the increasing concern of today’s resource
depletion and to address environmental considerations in both developed and
developing countries, life cycle assessment (LCA) can be applied to decision
making in order to improve sustainability in the construction industry (Bribián, Capilla et al. 2011, Renzulli, Notarnicola
et al. 2016).

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The
World Steel Association provides the most consistent and accurate information
for LCAs of the steel industry. It collects life cycle inventory data on the
steel life cycle, including raw 
material  extraction,  manufacturing,  use 
phase  and  end-of-life 
processes.  The researchers focusing
on the world steel industry have stressed the importance of LCA in
environmental assessment (Burchart-Korol 2013, Ullah, Perret et al. 2016).

LCA
is a widely used methodology to assess environmental performances of products
and   processes taking into account the whole life cycle
of the products (ISO 14040, 2006; ISO 16 14044, 2006).  It helps to identify the environmental impacts
hotspots and corresponding decisions can be defined (Vázquez-Rowe, Villanueva-Rey et al. 2012). There are
limitations to use LCA as a stand-alone methodological approach to
sustainability analysis (Vázquez-Rowe, Villanueva-Rey et al. 2012). To that aim
economic-ecological efficiency or commonly known as eco-efficiency is a useful
operational concept. The concept of eco-efficiency refers to a process increase
output value, and  lesser  negative 
impacts  (World  Business 
Council  for  Sustainable Development,  2000). Eco-efficiency  was 
defined  by  OECD, 
(1998)  as  the 
ratio  of    economic 
value  per  environmental 
impacts.  Indicators  related 
to  eco-efficiency  can 
be  assessed  through 
a  product’s  economic 
value  against its  environmental 
impact (Van Passel, Van Huylenbroeck et al. 2009).Eco-efficiency  can 
help  policy- makers  to 
formulate,  implement  and 
assess  measures  to 
improve  the  economic 
activity  with reduced amount of
negative impacts on environment. (Van Passel, Van Huylenbroeck et al. 2009) stated that
eco-efficiency is a useful operational metric to assess farm level
sustainability. It may   be used as a
proxy to sustainability indicator (OECD, 1998). (Picazo-Tadeo, Beltrán-Esteve et al. 2012)argued that any
given production process leads to a set of environmental impact indicators (e.g.
through the use of life cycle assessment -LCA), hence to a set of eco-efficiency
ratios (Young 1996, Burchart-Korol 2013).

2. Objectives

Objectives
of this study are:

·        
To evaluate the life-cycle approach for
assessment of environmental impacts associated 
with industrial material (Steel) and product systems;

·        
To consider broad-based possibilities
for environmental improvements arising from

·        
materials selection and product design;

·        
To determine specific environmental
impacts associated with the production/use/EOL of industrial materials and,

·        
To evaluate and compare eco-efficiency
of steel products between China and Pakistan.

3. Materials and
methods

To
explore the objectives outlined above, a survey along with a field experiment
will be conducted.

3.1. Life-cycle assessment

LCA
calculations were accomplished by using software SimaPro version 7.2.4 in
compliance with ISO 14040 (2006) that defines four main steps within an LCA
study: goal and scope definition, inventory modeling, impact assessment, and
final interpretation. (Ortiz, Castells et al. 2009)

3.1.1. Goal and scope
definition

The
goal of the study was to assess the environmental impacts of steel industries
in Pakistan and China and to compare the impacts associated with the
sub-processes as well as the impacts associated with the final products. The
system boundary was assigned as “cradle to gate”. Upstream processes,
transportation, production processes and utility services were included to
cradle to gate boundary. The upstream processes are acquisitions of raw
materials, energy and auxiliary materials. The transportation stage indicates
the transportation of materials such as raw materials, auxiliary materials and
fuels. The production processes for steel production are divided into two; the
main production system and the utility services. The main production system
comprises of the following sub-processes; coke making(CM), sintering (S), blast
furnaces (BF), basic oxygen furnaces (BOF),casting (C) and hot rolling (HR).
The utility services include energy and water facilities and mechanical
workshop. Energy facility comprises boiler, turbo generator, turbo blower, pure
water, waste heat, and oxygen plants producing steam, electricity, compressed
air, steam and oxygen respectively. Water facility supplies pure water, service
water and sea water. Mechanical workshop is responsible for repair and
manufacturing of machine parts. The mechanical workshop had been excluded
during the LCA evaluations conducted for the sub-processes and products as the
contribution of this unit to specific processes or products cannot be disintegrated
(Olmez, Dilek et al. 2016).

3.1.2. Data inventory

The
data inventory stage involves the quantification of flows and materials and
energy required to produce the functional unit of interest. In the present
study, a field study was carried out in one of the three integrated iron and
steel production facilities in China/Pakistan in order to collect the inventory
data. Thus, this facility is considered as a representative sample of integrated
steel industry in terms of manufacturing technologies and production capacity.
The information about acquisitions of raw materials, energy and auxiliary
materials were not obtained from the facility, but, instead was taken from the
inventories in the database of SimaPro. Among the databases involved, primarily
Eco invent database was preferred (Olmez, Dilek et al. 2016).

3.2 Life cycle impact
assessment methods

The
impact assessment steps were Characterization, Damage Assessment, Normalization
and Single Score. A method covering the category indicators at endpoint level
was favored in this study. By this way, the results of midpoint level can also
be seen and to ease the interpretation step endpoint results were used (Young 1996, Olmez, Dilek et al. 2016).

3.3 Interpretation

The
last phase of the LCA process is life cycle interpretation. The objectives of
this step is to analyze results and reach conclusions based on the findings of
the preceding 3 phases (ISO, 2006). (Olmez, Dilek et al. 2016).

3.4 Process-based LCA

Process-based
environmental impacts were assessed in order to detect the most polluting
sub-processes during liquid steel production. The assessment was performed for
the selected product of the corresponding sub-process and to determine the
contributions of each sub-process to various environmental impact categories (Olmez, Dilek et al. 2016).

4. Expected Outcomes

This
research presents the results of an LCA study comparing the most commonly used
building materials i.e. steel with some eco-materials using different impact
categories. The aim is to deepen the knowledge of energy and environmental
specifications of building materials, analyzing their possibilities for improvement
and providing guidelines for materials selection in the eco-design of new
buildings and rehabilitation of existing buildings and comparing the steel
material in both countries (Burchart-Korol 2013).

5. Significance
of the research

Steel  production, 
and  the  iron-making 
process  in  particular, 
is  a  very 
energy-intensive   industry. The
application of environmental life cycle assessment (LCA) allows steel   producers to improve the manufacturing
process by reducing environmental impacts. It 
was  found  that the 
most  significant  environmental 
impact  was  damage 
to  human  health, which was related to coke consumption
in the blast furnace and iron ore consumption in the  sinter plant. The largest energy demand in
the entire steel production system occurred in the  blast 
furnace  system  production, 
and  the  major 
source  of  environmental 
impacts  was  the 
consumption  of  fossil 
fuels.  Direct GHG emissions were
related to the emissions of combustion sources. Significant sources of GHG
emissions included coke, coke breeze, coke oven 
gas  and  electricity, 
and  the  biggest 
source  of  metal 
and  mineral  depletion 
was  iron  consumption in the sintering process

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