As we continue our transition towards more sustainable buildings and the imperative for carbon reduction continues to increase, the adoption of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) has seen significant growth in the last decade in countries across the world. This adoption of LCA and design principles is both in the private sector and in Governments and local Councils as a way to ensure sustainable outcomes for their projects.
Life Cycle Assessment allows a designer to quantify environmental performance by looking at the impacts of each component of a building over its life span and most importantly, maximise design functionality. It enables you to see a full picture of the impacts of a project and identifies important hotspots for improvement that may have otherwise been overlooked. Since LCA is metrics based, it takes the guesswork out of sustainability and it’s no wonder that it’s quickly become the go-to method around the world for good building design.
One such country that is adopting the LCA methodology is France. They are working towards legislation for LCA of residential buildings by 2018 with their current focus on developing a voluntary label for energy and environment performance of new buildings. This is a big step forward because it does not only focus on energy but considers also the whole life-cycle and the environment in order to analyse the overall performance of the building. The aim is to pilot test the label in 2016-2017 with three main criteria: total energy use, total water consumption and CO2 emissions.
In order to assess the overall performance, the label may also include criteria on waste and public transportation. Seven working groups have been created to define this label and are working during the year 2015 on the following topics:
1) Life-cycle assessment
2) Environmental performance display
3) Environmental data
4) Economic stakes
6) BEPOS (positive-energy building) and urban integration
7) Quality of use
The French energy efficiency policy is shifting from energy efficiency to overall performance (energy, environment, cost) and from the building scale to the district scale, with the need to take district energy into consideration.
This is yet more evidence of the global trend of LCA for the building industry and low carbon future.