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Whole-Building Life-Cycle Assessment

Examining the Environmental Profile of Building Materials

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a technique for examining the environmental impacts that stem from the life cycle of a product, process, or service. A whole-building LCA (WBLCA) is a specific kind of assessment targeted at understanding the life-cycle impacts of materials used in constructing a building.

Traditional LCA software such as GaBi, SimaPro, OpenLCA, and Umberto can be used to conduct a WBLCA, but the learning curve for these software solutions can be steep and take longer than a typical project has available. To help streamline the process, several organizations have developed tools designed specifically to support WBLCA. These tools draw upon the data that has become increasingly available on building and construction materials from several sources—including life-cycle inventory (LCI databases) and environmental product declarations (EPDs). This tip sheet provides descriptions of these tools, their benefits, considerations and costs. Note that the descriptions below are based on feedback from actual users of the software and may not be everyone’s experience when it comes to the learning curve and ease of use.

LEEDuser expert

Julie Sinistore


Project Director

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