Building Life Cycle & Material selection (Part 2 of 3)
Read Part 1 here
The goal is to select the best material for a given application while meeting or exceeding product performance goals and minimizing costs. In today’s market the costs of material plays a very significant role in their selection. The key is to look at quality, performance, maintenance requirements and life expectancy. Then weigh these factors with the cost, not just immediate cost, but long term and replacement costs.
* How much energy will be required to get it into your hands?
* What is it made of?
* What is the expected life span?
* What are the maintenance requirements?
* How many emissions are created during production?
* What will happen to it when it is no longer usable?
This pie chart shows embodied energy consumption for a house from the manufacturing, construction and operation phases. In other words, it is the energy used to make the materials, get them to the site, build with them, and maintain or replace them over 60 years of house life. The house is a typical new 2,200 square foot home. Life cycle assessment takes all slices of the pie into consideration.
There are a few tools available to accurately assess lifecycles, most notably, BEES (building for Environmental and Economic sustainability) and the ATHENA impact estimator or Ecocalcualtor.