The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) has developed initial recommendations for implementing Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of building materials and LCA-based credits in its LEED Green Building Rating System, the council recently announced.
The recommendations, including short and long term implementation and technical details regarding LCA methodology, were made by the council's Life Cycle Assessment Working Group The effort to include LCA is part of the continuous improvement of the LEED rating system.
LCA is a scientific methodology that holistically evaluates the environmental impact of a product through its life cycle, from the gathering of raw materials through manufacturing, use and final disposal or recycling. In buildings LCA can be used to compare the environmental benefits or detriments of various options available to the design team.
The group's initial recommendations included undertaking an LCA evaluation of the assemblies used in a building's structure and envelope. Assemblies would be ranked by their environmental impact and LEED credits awarded accordingly.
Inclusion of LCA-based credits in the LEED Rating system is a long-term interest of USGBC. Two essential requirements for LCA credits are a "level playing field," fair and objective evaluation based on a consistent methodology, and that LCA evaluation be practical and intuitive for designers, specifiers and facilities managers, the council stated.
The USGBC hopes to complete an LCA plan by the end of this year.