UBC Undergraduate Research

Chemistry building, University of British Columbia life cycle assessment : final report Tesche, Cassie


This Life Cycle Assessment of the Chemistry building (originally known as the Science Building) has been completed as an extension of the original LCA completed by Adam Jarolim in 20101, as part of the UBC LCA Database Project, a growing collection of LCA environmental impact studies completed on academic buildings across the UBC Vancouver campus. This study’s purpose is to provide environmental impact information on the Chemistry building, but more importantly to contribute to an aggregate benchmark within the UBC LCA Database Project, which will be used to help UBC make more environmentally sustainable building choices in the future. The study has been completed using quantities obtained from building drawings and On-Screen Takeoff software, which were then used for modeling the building using various assemblies within the Athena Institute’s Impact Estimator software, with the environmental impacts of the Product and Construction Process stages of the building life cycle determined by Impact Estimator. The initial stage of this project was to review the files from Jarolim’s study, including the Impact Estimator files, the Inputs and Assumptions Document, the On-Screen Takeoff file, the building drawings, and Jarolim’s final report. Because of software updates to the Impact Estimator, model modifications were necessary in order to get the model to run. The building components were then sorted according to a Canadian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (CIQS) modified Level 3 elemental system, including the respective model assemblies in Impact Estimator and the corresponding entry in the Inputs and Assumptions Documents. Further model modifications were necessary to properly sort the building assemblies. The model was then reviewed for inaccuracies, with corrections made where possible. Impact Estimator was used to generate reference flows for the building through Bill of Materials, as well as the environmental impacts of the building in seven impact categories (fossil fuel consumption, global warming, acidification, human health criteria – respiratory, eutrophication, ozone depletion, and smog formation). The results of the study of this building are presented in terms of elemental contributions to the overall impacts, as well as the life cycle contributions to the overall impact, and uncertainty in the study is discussed. These results were also used in creating a class benchmark for all of the buildings on campus that have been studied. The Chemistry building impacts have been compared to this benchmark, with further interpretation of the results, in Annex A, and further recommendations for LCA use in Annex B. 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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