Software assesses the life cycle impact of building assemblies

March 02, 2007 |

Designing and building structures that minimize greenhouse gas emissions, solid waste, air and water pollution, and other environmental impacts will soon be as easy as a click of a button, thanks to a new life cycle assessment tool from Portland, Ore.-based Green Building Initiative.

The software tool, which is being developed for use with GBI's Green Globes environmental assessment and rating system, provides LCA data for more than 400 common building assemblies, including exterior walls, roofs, intermediate floors, interior walls, windows, and columns and beams. The tool allows Building Teams to compare design scenarios based on LCA data, such as embodied energy, solid waste, air and water pollution, and global warming potential.

“LCA is essential to green building because it allows the impartial comparison of materials, assemblies, and even whole buildings,” said Ward Hubbell, executive director of GBI. “But it poses a challenge for many designers—in terms of complexity as well as time. Our intent is to simplify the process in order to facilitate informed choices.”

Toronto-based Morrison Hershfield Consulting Engineers created the tool in association with the University of Minnesota's Center for Sustainable Building Research and the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute.

GBI hopes to have the tool online and integrated into the Web-based Green Globes system later this year.

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