Life cycle assessment, or LCA, is arguably today’s most talked-about topic in the green building movement.
Architects, engineers, contractors, building owners, environmentalists, and government officials want assurance that the products and materials they are using to design and construct buildings are the most beneficial to the environment—“from cradle to grave.”
Similarly, forward-looking manufacturers of green building products are searching for scientifically objective ways to distinguish the long-term environmental benefits of their products.
Interest in LCA was spurred a year ago, when the U.S. Green Building Council created an “LCA into LEED” Task Force to determine whether and how LCA could be incorporated into the next version of its LEED rating system.
Other efforts, such as the U.S. Life Cycle Inventory Database project, the National Institute of Standards & Technology’s BEES program, the Green Globes rating system, and the UNEP/SETAC Life Cycle Initiative, also point to growing interest in LCA.
And surely LCA will be high on the agenda of the White House Summit on Sustainability, scheduled for January 24-25, 2006.
The editors offer this White Paper in the hope that it will inform and educate the design and construction community as to the growing importance of life cycle assessment to the built environment. We welcome your comments.