Life Cycle Assessment is a structured methodology for compiling and evaluating the environmental impacts and the primary energy demand of a product system throughout its life cycle.
Life Cycle Assessment can be applied to any product or process, assemblies, entire HVAC systems or even whole buildings. This guide will provide an introduction for those who are new to the concept or who need a reminder of the basics.
Currently 10 to 20% of life cycle energy is used during the extraction of raw materials and construction. Changes to Building Regulations mean operational energy consumption (currently 80-90%) needs to be reduced and this is expected to affect the balance between upfront energy consumption and in-use energy consumption.
Life Cycle Assessment - an introduction (BG 52/2013) was written as part of BSRIA’s work on the CILECCTA project. This was a collaborative EU project, running between 2009-13 and involving 17 partners from 7 countries, that researched and developed an advanced software tool incorporating life cycle costing and life cycle assessment, probabilistic analysis and the modelling of future options. Read more about the software tool or contact Ian Wallis at BSRIA.
Life Cycle Assessment can be used for:
- analysing the life cycle of a product in order to find the stages in the manufacturing process that have disproportionately high environmental impact
- providing information to politicians and decision makers to help them form plans, set policy or inform the design process of a product or service
- generating information about a product that can be communicated to consumers as part of a marketing or behaviour change strategy
- making comparisons between the environmental impacts of products that perform the same function as part of a design process
Life Cycle Assessment is concerned purely with environmental evaluations. Economic evaluations are carried out as part of Life Cycle Costing and this is covered in BSRIA’s Whole Life Costing guide (BG 5/2008).