“Like smartphones, trialling a life cycle analysis will have you asking how you managed before”, says Rebecca Dracup, Sustainability Engineer at Wood and Grieve Engineeers.
Green Building Council of Australia and eTool are on a mission to turn the construction industry into a low carbon sector by applying innovation and technical expertise to the projects going through the Green Star certification process.
There are two options for achieving the Life Cycle Impacts credit: Performance pathway or Prescriptive pathway. The Performance pathway is a whole of building Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for the reference and proposed project, aimed at increasing overall project environmental performance. The Prescriptive pathway goal is to reduce the amount of building materials used.
eTool have built expertise in using the performance pathway after working on over 60 Green Star projects since the LCA option was introduced as an innovation credit back in 2012. We´ve learned that the most effective solution to decarbonise our industry is to quantify the entire life cycle project impacts, compare and prioritise improvement strategies and understand what else is required to achieve a truly sustainable outcome. By combining the impacts for water, energy, materials, construction, maintenance and end of life, the LCA allows the design team to see the project impacts from different perspectives, how changes to one area would impact on others and help prioritise the most effective treatments. Most importantly, LCA is used to maximise functionality.
What are the additional benefits of seeing the building as a whole, or adopting the performance based pathway? These are:
- Design value
- Global trend and proven track history
- More credits and better cost-benefit
Design teams get closely engaged with the Life Cycle Design process and get real clarity on environmental “hot spots” in the design and how to improve them. Consultants feedback also suggested that having the whole project scope in a single model was a more satisfying way to document and to improve the design right from the beginning. Designers will understand whole-of-life implication of product and material selection including recurring and end of life impacts, and not only initial construction impacts addressed by the prescriptive option. Online record of LCA models in eToolLCD can be used as reference for future projects.
Global trend and proven track history
In some European countries LCA is a mandatory requirement for any new construction project. We see that it is a trend that will come to Australia too and companies should adopt before it happens. Consultants that have used the performance pathway don’t revert back. Cundall, Wood and Grieve, ARUP, Mirvac, Lend Lease and Built for example are big users of the LCA credit in Green Star.
“At Built we always recommend the LCA pathway – the assessment generates fantastic insight into the project and valuable feedback on design options. It enables us to interrogate a much wider ranger of impacts and seek opportunities for improvement that match project specific areas of impact”, says Sustainability Engineer Clare Gallagher.
More credits and better cost-benefit
Most projects achieve the total points available. LCA credit is easier in V1.2 provided consultants engage early. The purely performance related impact reduction (energy use) is capped to prevent double counting with the GHG reduction credit and additional credits can be achieved by just showing how the LCA has influenced the design. Also, eToolLCD software allows the users to see total Life Cycle Costing that can be useful for developers and end clients.
We hope this article was useful to help you understand all benefits with developing LCA skills, how to apply it to your Green Star projects and achieve great outcomes for your organisation, your clients and the planet.
Get in touch with eTool to simply build better.