Environmental impacts associated with the construction, maintenance, and disposal of low-impact stormwater management devices are one aspect that should be considered during decision-making and life-cycle assessment (LCA) is a suitable method for quantifying such impacts. This paper reports a pilot study that employs LCA to compare life-cycle energy requirements and CO2 emissions of two stormwater devices in New Zealand. The two devices are a raingarden servicing an urban feeder road, and a sand filter that could have been installed in its stead. With an assumed life-time of 50 years, the life-cycle energy requirements of the built raingarden were almost 20% less than for the sand filter, while the CO2 emissions were 30% less. Our analysis shows that given the difference between the infiltration rates used in the raingarden design (0.3 m/day) and measured during monitoring (3 m/day) there was potential to make significantly greater life-time savings using a smaller design for the raingarden that would have also met the treatment efficiency expectations. The analysis highlights the significant contribution of transportation–of both materials and staff–and ongoing maintenance to a treatment device's life-cycle energy and CO2 profiles.

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