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LCA of Buildings

Updated: Apr 22, 2021

IEN wrote the article "Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for Buildings" for the GreenPlus magazine (September 2017 issue). While LCA is still in its infancy in Malaysia, the article references how LCA in the building sector is clearly on the rise world wide, for example, with LCA being incorporated in the latest version of the American green building certification scheme (LEED). The article, which was co-authored with Alexander Graul, gives an introduction to LCA and the six most used parameters 1) Global warming potential, GWP 2) Depletion of stratosphere ozone layer, ODP 3) Acidification of land/water, AP 4) Eutrophication, EP 5) Formation of tropospheric ozone, POCP and 6) Depletion of nonrenewable energy resources, PENRT. The article, also gives examples of applying the LCA method to ongoing Malaysian building projects and shows that for high rise office buildings and for shopping malls it is the structural elements of the building that account for the bulk of the environmental impact. When comparing the environmental impact of an air-conditioned Malaysian high rise office on a 50-year life cycle, 1/3 of the global warming is attributed to the building materials insofar the building is energy efficient. And with use of alternative structural building materials like cross-laminated timber (CLT), the environmental impact of the building materials can be significantly reduced.

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