Lifecycle assessment

Pressure is mounting to derive standards for environmental performance over the lifetime of a building by targeting the environmental impact of its component materials. In parallel with this there is also growing awareness of the value of calculating the economic cost of a building from inception to demolition.

In 1998 the Building Research Establishment (BRE) developed a scoring system for environmental impacts known as Ecopoints. It is based on Howard, N., Edwards, S. and Anderson, J. (1999) Methodology for Environmental Profiles of Construction Materials, Components and Buildings, BRE. The system deals with the extraction, processing, manufacture, transport, building-in-use and disposal stages of a product's life-cycle.

These various environmental impacts are then assessed against 13 categories including climate change, atmospheric pollution, water pollution and raw materials extraction. Clearly some of the categories have a greater overall impact than others, like climate change. There is therefore a system of weighting which reflects these differences. To avoid the charge of subjectivity the BRE consulted with a wide range of construction professionals and environmentalists before fixing on a system of weightings.

The outcome is a system of Ecopoints and the higher the score the greater the environmental impact. The benchmark is the environmental impact caused over a year by the average UK citizen which is set at 100. Details of this system may be found on at www.bre.co.uk/envest.

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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