Cradle to Grave: The Concealed Energy, Carbon and Water Impact of Buildings

Wednesday, March 09, 2016
3:30 pm to 5:00 pm

Buildings presently account for a third of the world's energy use, and the operational energy of buildings is projected to double between now and 2050. As the building sector grapples with its role in mitigating climate change, and environmental impacts more broadly, we must come to terms with a more holistic view of how building design, construction and use shapes the environment. All too often efforts to minimize environmental impacts of buildings focus solely on operational energy, carbon and water. However, this view neglects the concealed impacts across the wider building lifecycle: material extraction and manufacturing, transportation and logistics, construction, maintenance and disposal or reuse at end of life. 

This presentation will explore the cradle to grave environmental impacts of building materials, assemblies and whole buildings across a range of environmental impact categories. The session will discuss the increased use of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as an assessment methodology and present tools that can be used by designers to integrate iterative LCA into their design workflow. The presentation will also explore how life cycle tools and perspectives are being leveraged to broaden our sense of what NetPositive or regenerative design fully means, and to identify ways that we can put the NetPositive ambition into practice now as a guide to decisions in the buildings sector and beyond.