UBC Undergraduate Research

Life cycle assessment of the "BE" Building Amiama, Teresa; Lee, Andrew; Lo, Manvil


The following document is a report describing a life cycle assessment (LCA) study performed on the BE Building. This LCA study was completed at the request of the UBC SEEDS program to understand the impact of increasing the glazing of a multi-unit residential building through its life cycle and to assist the Residential Environmental Assessment Program (REAP) in developing responsible, mandated glazing ratios. The BE Building is a multi-family residential development located on the University of British Columbia’s South Campus. The development consists of a 17-storey high-rise building containing fifty-eight (58) owner-occupied units. For this LCA study report, the ISO 14040 and 14044 formatting standards have been followed. A sensitivity analysis for five materials was performed, as well as a sensitivity analysis for fenestration ratios. The sensitivity analysis measured the change in environmental impact across the impact categories considered, after a hypothetical 10% increase in material quantity (typically mass) was imposed. Concrete stood out as a leader in the percent impact change in the categories ‘weighted resource use’, ‘global warming potential’, and ‘smog potential’. Rebar comprised most of the percent change in impact in terms of ‘eutrophication potential’. Also worth noting is aluminum’s impact. This material has high impacts in all categories except in ‘weighted resource use’ (where concrete is the outstanding leader), and it has the greatest impact in ‘ozone depletion potential’ (where concrete is the second greatest contributor). The result of the sensitivity analysis is a useful tool for examining specific impacts from an increase in standard glazing. A 10% increase in standard glazing didn’t contribute to a significant relative change in impact. Notably, the greatest impact from an increased standard glazing was in ‘HH Respiratory Effects Potential.’ The glazing ratio (76.9%) was higher than the provided energy use intensities, thus the fenestration ratio study focused on decreasing glazing ratios. The results show that for the life cycle stages “Manufacturing”, “Maintenance,” and “Operating Energy” a decrease in fenestration ratio decreases the net impacts; on the other hand, “Construction” and “End-of-Life” show a net increase in impacts with decreasing fenestration ratios. Finally, if all the life cycle stages are accounted for together, a decreasing fenestration ratio shows a net decrease in overall impacts. For future implementations of LCA in residential buildings, the limitations of the IE software reference in the Uncertainties section should be modified. Reviewing impacts of glazing in residential buildings should refer to this report in making evidence-based decisions for policy. 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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