Guidelines to integrate life cycle assessment in building design

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Joshi, Surabhi
Augenbroe, Godfried
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As the architecture and construction industry places an increased emphasis on sustainability, building researchers are seeking more comprehensive methods to evaluate and reduce a building's environmental impacts. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) has emerged as one of the most capable tools to aid in this assessment. Presently there are no guiding principles for the use of LCA in the building industry. This thesis aims to provide guidelines to help architects utilize LCA methodology as part of the design process. This study reviews a number of previously-completed whole-building LCA case-studies to understand different LCA scenarios of use in the building industry. In addition, a set of North American and international LCA tools were evaluated for their utility in different scenarios. The state of research was assessed to find answers to some critical issues concerning LCA. Based on these analyses, a number of scenarios of use of LCA were identified and a set of guidelines was proposed to conduct LCA for buildings. It was concluded that the present use of LCA is limited due to limited tool capabilities, deficient databases and lack of a building-specific methodology. The study recognizes these limitations and recommends specific research opportunities for future researchers. However, it is concluded that approximate LCA results obtained from the tools available today can be useful in informing design-decisions, keeping in mind the lack of precision in the results.
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