PORTLAND, Ore. – The Green Building Initiative has developed a new life cycle assessment tool that it says will make it easier than ever for designers to take into account a proposed building’s potential impact on the environment during its lifespan. The tool can assess embodied energy, solid waste, air and water pollution, and global warming potential.
Developed primarily for use with the GBI’s Green Globes environmental assessment and rating system, the new tool provides LCA results for more than 400 common building assemblies in low- and high-rise categories, including exterior walls, roofs, intermediate floors, interior walls, windows, and columns and beams.
It was created through a contract with Morrison Hershfield Consulting Engineers, in association with the University of Minnesota’s Center for Sustainable Building Research and the Athena Sustainable Materials Institute. Athena’s Environmental Impact Estimator software was used to generate the results embedded in the tool.
“This project is tied to the GBI objective of making green building more accessible to the mainstream design community,” says Ward Hubbell, executive director of the GBI. “LCA is essential to green building because it allows the impartial comparison of materials, assemblies and even whole buildings, 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.”
Because the GBI has also initiated the process to establish Green Globes as an official standard under the American National Standards Institute, ANSI says its technical subcommittee must review the tool before it can be integrated into the Web-based Green Globes system.