UBC Undergraduate Research

Life cycle assessment of the new SUB project Attieh, Ahmed; Chutskoff, Andrew; Clague, Brandon; Birdle, Jon; Hawkins, Tyler


The University of British Columbia’s New Student Union Building is to be completed for use by September 2014. It’s 222,000 square feet will cost approximately $103 million, 78% funded by UBC student fees. UBC aims for the New SUB to be LEED Platinum rated an example of UBC’s commitment to sustainability, climate change action, and green building innovation. This Life Cycle Assessment quantifies the environmental impacts associated with the building’s materials and energy use as represented in the Issued for Construction drawings dated May 7, 2012. Specifically, we did material takeoffs of the foundations, columns & beams, floors, interior walls, exterior walls and roofs using OnCenter’s Onscreen Take-off software. Environmental impacts were then estimated using Athena’s Impact Estimator software for the following impact categories: acidification potential, eutrophication potential, fossil fuel consumption, global warming potential, human health criteria, ozone depletion potential, and smog potential. Sensitivity analysis found that concrete played far and away the largest role in determining environmental impacts. Specifically the use of a 35% fly ash concrete mix, compared to a 9% mix (the minimum accepted for input by the Athena software), will reduce the whole building’s associated CO2 emissions by 7.4%, an estimation which likely confirms the concrete supplier’s claim of 35% vs 0% achieving a 10% reduction. This LCA is a preliminary student analysis with rough estimations and not absent of assumptions. However it is intended to be useful both through material impact comparisons and as a baseline study for further evaluation. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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