Life cycle assessment, and why you should care

LCA is a way of quantifying the environmental impact generated by the manufacture and delivery of a product.

Sponsored content
July 20, 2015 |
Brad Johnson
Green, construction, metal building products, life cycle assessment

To make the assessment, the resources used and the wastes generated are calculated, mass-balanced, and normalized relative to a specific quantity called a functional unit.

If you care about eco friendliness and sustainability, then Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is no doubt familiar to you. But if you aren’t aware, let me tell you what it is and why you should care.

LCA is a way of quantifying the environmental impact generated by the manufacture and delivery of a product by looking at the resources consumed and wastes generated between two specific points on the supply chain. 

Often LCA refers to these environmental aspects and potential impacts associated with a product, process, or service through all its life stages. Think of the term “Cradle to Grave” from a non-biological point of view.

To make the assessment, the resources used and the wastes generated are calculated, mass-balanced, and normalized relative to a specific quantity called a functional unit. This produces what is called a Cradle-to-Gate Life Cycle Inventory. This LCI data can be registered in international databases for use by computer programs that calculate equivalent environmental impacts for the construction, life use and disposal of an entire building over an assumed life, called a Cradle-to-Grave Whole Building LCA.

For building products and materials, a “Cradle-to-Gate “LCA is examined so that all impacts occurring prior to delivery to the jobsite are considered.

Why is LCA important when you select construction products?

Many green building programs such as the USGBC’s LEED, the International Green Construction Code and Green Globes give credit for whole-building LCA calculations. They typically require an LCA evaluation be run once for the building in question, and again for a hypothetical baseline or reference building. Credit can be given based on the environmental impact reduction achieved by the proposed building versus the reference building. The products chosen affect the ultimate whole building LCA outcome.

Also, companies use LCA to demonstrate transparency and corporate credibility to stakeholders and customers. Athena Sustainable Materials Institute— a think tank working with construction professionals, manufacturers and policy makers to develop the next generation of green buildings—says on its website that LCA is used in new product research and development where environmental footprint is important to the future positioning or cost structure of a product. “The benefit to LCA is simple: reliable, transparent data for both manufacturers and consumers, enabling better decisions.”

MBCI cares about LCA. We have been actively involved in the development of LCA data for our core products since they first started appearing in green building standards. We have cooperated with the Metal Construction Association (MCA) in efforts to develop industry average data for cold-formed metal cladding systems and insulated metal panels (IMPs).

Metal panels and roofs are inherently sustainable, energy efficient and recyclable. When making your next product purchase decision, remember that MBCI has taken extra steps to make sure all our products are produced in such a way to make as little negative impact on the environment as possible before it gets to your construction site. Peace for the environment; peace of mind for you.

Brad Johnson | The Latest in Metal Facades

Brad Johnson is vice president of eco-FICIENT® Sales, MBCI’s insulated metal panel (IMP) product line. Johnson joined MBCI in 1996 and held management positions with MBCI and Metal Depots before joining eco-FICIENT®. Johnson sits on the Metal Construction Association’s IMP Council and has written several articles for various trade publications. He is a graduate of Clemson University.

Related Blogs

Metal Roof Retrofits: The Potential, The Problems, The Payoff
July 08, 2015 | Metals | The Latest in Metal Facades

During metal roof retrofits, look for moisture and check for asbestos

Metal Roof Retrofits: the potential, the problems, the payoff, part 1
June 23, 2015 | Metals | The Latest in Metal Facades

For the best possible outcomes when working on metal roof retrofits, consider some simple but vital steps t...

How architects can tap into the expertise of their metal roof manufacturer, part 4
June 09, 2015 | Metals | The Latest in Metal Facades

Let’s look at the importance of enforcing the detailed specifications the roof manufacturer provides.

How architects can tap into the expertise of their metal roof manufacturer, part 3

For architects, it’s important to stay on top of the details and specifications, and make sure these are clearly communicated to the roofing contractor as needed.

May 21, 2015 | Metals | The Latest in Metal Facades

But how does the architect ensure that he or she gets this essential information on every project?...

How architects can tap into the expertise of their metal roof manufacturer

Roof manufacturers can help architects by training the roof contractor on the in­stallation of the standing seam roof system to be used on the project. Photo: Flickr.

May 11, 2015 | Roofing | The Latest in Metal Facades

Here are three things metal roof manufacturers can do to help the architect

Architects, tap into the expertise of your metal roof manufacturer

There are a number of things a roof manufacturer can do to help the architect make sure the finished roof is properly designed. Photo courtesy of MBCI.

April 27, 2015 | Metals | The Latest in Metal Facades

Architects are not only expected to be experts in every field, they must also be part lawyer, arbitrator an...

MBCI coated roof and wall panels virtually graffiti proof

Every year American cities spend an estimated $12 billion on graffiti removal.

April 20, 2015 | The Latest in Metal Facades

A new effective solution that is biodegradable and water-soluble can help building owners and municipalitie...

Fire resistance of metal cladding is an asset in wildfire-prone areas
September 15, 2014 | The Latest in Metal Facades

Construction projects in fire-prone areas need to take wildfire danger into account, and metal panels provi...

Metal roof and wall panels provide strong wind resistance

Photo: Detlfef Schobert/Flickr

September 08, 2014 | The Latest in Metal Facades

In areas that experience strong winds, metal roof and wall panels provide a sturdy, well-tested option for...

Metal roofs offer energy-efficiency, durability, and recyclability
September 02, 2014 | The Latest in Metal Facades

Metal roofing material is known for its durability, but it also offers two other sustainable attributes tha...

Overlay Init