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The Mismeasure of Buildings: Five Reasons Life-Cycle Assessment Will Not Give Us Zero-Impact Design

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified May 01, 2013 01:01 AM
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by Paula Melton last modified Apr 26, 2013

Author name:  Paula Melton Blog Category:  BuildingGreen's Top Stories Whole-building LCA is about to get really big in LEED and elsewhere. It's a great tool, as long as you understand its limitations. As part of its " Journey to Deep Green ," international construction firm Skanska is tracking embodied carbon of the core-and-shell projects it builds for its real estate development arm. Rather than relying only on available LCA data, which are just estimates and averages, the group is tracking actual transportation miles of both materials and workers, measuring the amount of energy used for onsite equipment and lighting, and carefully calculating total waste generation and waste transport. That level of detail is not found in a typical LCA, and gathering the data is a lot of work. Photo Credit: Skanska Commercial Development Are you designing the world’s greenest building? If so, have your model line up here with all the others that have laid claim to the title. That’s right: single-family homes to the left, everyone else to the right. Today we’re finally going to settle this! As soon as the bell sounds, start entering all your building’s materials into this hand-held life-cycle assessment device. I hope you all remembered to bring your carefully tracked site-visit mileage and the spreadsheets showing carbon released from the soil during construction? Also your energy models and decommissioning plans? GO! And the winner is… OK, OK, this would never work: buildings are complex, and there are just too many variables and unknowns. Also, you could never fit all the “world’s greenest” building designs into one room. Yet to hear some people talk about the hottest new sustainable design trend—life-cycle assessment, or LCA—you would think it was the one and only methodology we need to determine whether a building product or a whole building is sustainable. That’s ridiculous, and we explore why—along with what LCA does really well—in this month’s EBN feature article, “ Whole-Building Life-Cycle Assessment: Taking the Measure of a Green Building .” Below are five things to keep in mind when using LCA in your practice. read more






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