[Sustainability] Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in the construction sector

The integration of sustainability concepts into the construction sector should be including new tools and processes. Although there is the perception that its inclusion is expensive and complex, it provides a holistic vision of the project as it takes into account factors that optimize resources, minimizes costs and improves quality of life. Among the tools of interest is a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). LCA is the process by which products or services go through a series of stages (cradle to grave) taking into account its social, environmental and economic impact.

LCA in buildings (source: http://www.ensmp.fr)

Three important parameters are shown, within each one various indicators can be measured to determined the sustainability of the process:

  1. materials: total volume utilized, material type, construction method, finishes, etc.
  2. energy:  electricity consumption, heat transfer (envelope), thermal insulation, energy type, etc.
  3. waste: solid and liquid waste, recyclable materials, deposition of waste.

These parameters are present in all stages of the construction process (design, construction, operation and maintenance and demolition). The great utility of LCA is to monitor and minimize the energy consumption and waste (reduce environmental impact), in turn it brings costs down.

Some links of interest on the topic are:

Life Cycle Construction Resource Guide – EPA

Life Cycle Cost Analysis – WBDG

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