Life Cycle Analysis for Sustainable Building Structures

Published by firstgreen on

The Cruciality of Life Cycle Analysis in the Age of Sustainable Building

In today’s sustainable-driven construction industry, a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) stands as the backbone for understanding the environmental implications of buildings. Complying with standards like EN 15978 [19], LCA for buildings doesn’t merely encompass materials, but spans the entirety of a building’s life, from conception to demolition.

A Dive into Structural Systems: Concrete vs. Composite

To showcase the potency and relevance of LCA, we’ve selected two distinct office buildings as case studies:

  1. Concrete Structured Building

  2. Composite Steel-Concrete Structured Building

Our objective isn’t to pit these two against each other in a duel of supremacy. Instead, we’re focusing on understanding the environmental nuances each structural system introduces into the building’s complete life cycle. For clarity, our LCA envelopes the complete building and transcends beyond just the structural system.

Deep Dive: Concrete Frame Building

7.1.1 Unveiling the Building

Nestled in the heart of Italy, our case study is an up-and-coming office building. Upon fruition, this architectural marvel is projected to house approximately 265 working stations, stretching its limits to a potential of 301 stations.

Dominating the western skyline with three floors and towering with four on its other sides, the building promises a total gross floor area of around 10,500 m².

In its quest for sustainability and energy efficiency, the building is adorned with state-of-the-art technologies: concrete core activation for ambient temperature control, free cooling, external heat pumps, and a natural pre-conditioning mechanism for air. Its dedication to the “nearly zero energy buildings” clause in Directive 2010/31/EU is commendable.

Furthermore, under the scrutinizing lens of BREEAM evaluation, this building has clinched an ‘Excellent’ rating, showcasing prowess in Management, Water Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Health and Well-being, and Land & Ecology domains.

7.1.2 The Core Purpose of Our Analysis

Our exploration through LCA serves two main goals:

  • Decoding the life cycle intricacies of a tangible building.

  • Validating the robustness and pinpointing areas of enhancement in our LCA model.

By extending our LCA to cover the entire building rather than just the structural system, we aim to juxtapose the embodied impacts against the global repercussions of the building.

For this particular study, we’ve defined the functional equivalent as “an office building with a GFA of 10,500m2 enduring a 60-year reference study period.”

We’ve ardently followed the cradle-to-grave approach, encompassing all stages of the building’s life. Relying on authentic building data and focusing on real-time scenarios, our LCA aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the sustainability facets of building structures.

Conclusion: The Path Ahead

The construction industry is evolving, and sustainability is at its core. An effective LCA not only offers insights into the environmental implications but sets the stage for improvements and innovations. By understanding and acting upon these insights, we can pave the way for a greener and more sustainable future in construction.

Categories: LCA